Josh Bernstein, Critic of Masks and Mandates, Says He Has COVID Then Backtracks

Conservative talk show host Josh Bernstein, who has been a fierce critic of mask and other mandates during the pandemic, announced that he had been infected with COVID-19. After publication of this article, he told Newsweek that his COVID test had come back negative.

On Friday, Bernstein announced that he had contracted the virus after speaking at an event on September 13. He said he began feeling sick a day later.

Describing his symptoms from his bedroom, Bernstein said, "This thing is brutal. It's not the flu, it's not. With the flu, it's like okay, you're sick, you've got a headache, you're sneezing, cold, stuffy, achy, this that. You could get some amoxicillin and three, four, five days later you're good to go, right? Nah, this isn't like that."

"I literally have zero flu-like symptoms. I'm not coughing. I'm not sneezing. I don't have a headache. I don't have a fever. I don't have chills. I don't have anything. The only thing I have is an absolutely unbearable, lethargic, tired feeling," Bernstein said.

He said that he has taken two doses of Ivermectin, and a cocktail of vitamins, to treat his illness, but that he would need to continue to rest in his "COVID quarantine cave" until he felt better.

He concluded his weekly show by asking his viewers to keep him in their prayers while he battled the virus.

Josh Bernstein COVID Conservative Right-Wing Mask
Conservative talk show host Josh Bernstein announced on Friday that he had contracted COVID-19. LinkedIn

Earlier this year, Bernstein encouraged his viewers to resist getting vaccinated "at all costs."

"Stop wearing face masks. Go outside, breathe in some fresh air, get some exercise, eat right, get your sleep, all that good stuff—enjoy your life and let me worry about the government and everybody else trying to destroy your freedom," he said on an episode of his show in April.

Bernstein did not say if his views on vaccines, face masks or other COVID-related mandates had changed.

Bernstein would have been one of several unvaccinated conservative talk show hosts who contracted the virus after criticizing inoculation efforts.

Since August, at least five have died from COVID-19. Dick Farrel, Phil Valentine, Marc Bernier, Jimmy DeYoung and Bob Enyart have all died after contracting the virus.

But despite the human toll the virus has taken, some fear that conservative hosts will continue to discourage their audience from getting vaccinated.

Matthew Sheffield, a former conservative media creator, told NBC earlier this month that "The only thing that people in right-wing media are going to respond to are legal threats."

"The death of their colleagues means nothing, but the loss of their personal fortunes is meaningful to them. And that says a lot," Sheffield said.

Update 3:50 p.m. ET September 25—This article was updated to reflect Bernstein telling Newsweek his COVID test had come back negative.