A North Dakota Republican who organized a rally to oppose Covid-19 vaccine mandates said he would not attend the event – because he was infected with Covid-19.
The state representative, Jeff Hoverson, posted on Facebook on Sunday that he was “quarantining and each day is getting better”.
The Minot lawmaker said he was taking the deworming drug ivermectin as a Covid-19 treatment and had not checked into a hospital.
“Covid is real and like a really bad flu,” Hoverson wrote.
Hoverson, a pastor, told the Associated Press he was diagnosed last week.
“I’m feeling rough,” he said on Monday, the day of the planned rally. “But this ivermectin is keeping me out of the hospital.”
Ivermectin is designed to fight parasitic infections but conservative commentators have promoted it as a treatment for Covid-19, despite a lack of evidence that it helps.
“It’s making me better,” Hoverson said.
The North Dakota legislature returned to Bismarck on Monday for a special five-day session in which a bill to prevent vaccine mandates will almost certainly gain approval. The House majority leader, Chet Pollert, said Hoverson could participate remotely.
North Dakota’s Republican leadership and Governor Doug Burgum oppose mandates and the state has joined a federal lawsuit challenging Joe Biden’s Covid vaccine rules.
Although Hoverson would not attend the rally at North Dakota’s statehouse, he said three of his teenage children would be there.
Hoverson is among the most far-right legislators in North Dakota. He introduced legislation last session to repeal mask mandates and has sponsored failed legislation that would have made it a felony to help women access abortions.
Last month, he was barred from boarding a flight at Minot airport after a run-in with a security agent. As a freshman legislator two years ago, he protested a prayer by a Hindu cleric, saying he didn’t “want to be compelled to pray for a false god”.