Wisconsin GOP Official Who Fought Mask Mandate Gets COVID Ahead of Trump Rally as Swing State's Cases Soar

Wisconsin's Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow announced that he'd tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday—just months after he opposed a mask mandate issued by the state's governor, Tony Evers. The diagnosis comes just one day before President Donald Trump will visit Wisconsin where cases have increased.

Farrow released a statement on Friday, saying that he'd tested positive for coronavirus.

"Last week, a member of my household developed COVID-19 symptoms and subsequently tested positive for the virus. As soon as they told me they were feeling ill, I self-quarantined and began working from home to avoid the possibility of spreading the virus in the community. A few days later, I also developed mild symptoms and was contact traced. Today, I received a positive COVID-19 test," he wrote.

The Republican county exec said that he followed CDC recommendations and self-quarantined, got tested, and used contact tracing to help stop the spread outside of his household. He recommended that residents do the same if they feel sick or test positive for the virus.

He also recommended that residents use the county's "Stay Safe to Stay Open" guidelines, which include wearing a mask, social distancing, getting a flu shot, and more.

In July, Farrow released a statement criticizing the governor's mandatory mask mandate, saying it "goes too far." He said that while the county recommended people wearing masks, a mandate would create more issues than it would solve—noting "the unenforceability of the order undermines existing laws, and overreach from the state erodes public trust in the government."

Farrow said that 911 dispatchers became overwhelmed with calls from people reporting others not wearing masks, and that it was taking away from important resources. He concluded the statement by explaining that some residents were concerned about mask mandates infringing on their "personal freedoms."

The official said that while the county encourages people to wear masks and social distance, the guidance shouldn't be forced. "Preserving trust within our community is more important than ever and forced government compliance is not the way to do that," he wrote.

Farrow's diagnosis with COVID comes as cases in Wisconsin have been on the rise in the swing state. According to a Friday report from the local Department of Health Services, the seven-day average for cases in Wisconsin reached 3,052—the first time that average topped 3,000, Reuters reported.

This all comes just a day before Trump's Saturday rally in Janesville, Wisconsin. He's scheduled to hold the rally at the Southern Wisconsin Regional Airport at 6 p.m. CDT. According to The Associated Press, Trump has recently spoken optimistically about the response to the virus as he tried to minimize the threat. Former White House Coronavirus Task Force aide Olivia Troye criticized his recent actions.

"That's why it so completely reckless of him, after having COVID himself, to turn around this week and double down on taking the mask off and parading around like it's not a necessary thing, calling himself immune," she said, as quoted by the AP.

Newsweek reached out to the Waukesha County executive's office for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Maks
People wear facemasks as US President Donald Trump delivers remarks on the economy at an airport hangar on August 17, 2020 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. Getty/Brendan Smialowski / AFP