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Politics

Maine Lawmaker Who Opposed Coronavirus Restrictions Reportedly Has COVID-19

Chris Johansen
Robert F. Bukaty
/
AP
State Rep. Chris Johansen, R- Monticello, wears a face shield as he takes the oath of office at the Augusta Civic Center, Wednesday, Dec 2, 2020, in Augusta, Maine.

Rep. Chris Johansen, a Republican legislator from the Aroostook County town of Monticello who has been an outspoken opponent of coronavirus restrictions, has reportedly contracted COVID-19.

In a recording shared by Mainer News contributor Crash Barry, a man alleged to be Johansen said, “Listen up, I’ve got COVID and I’m really, really sick and I just don’t have time to talk to you today.”

When contacted by the Bangor Daily News on Friday, Johansen said “I’m not talking” and hung up the phone.

“We do not respond or comment to the press on the health of our members or staff, instead preferring to honor their privacy. We are always open to comment on legislative policy and/or legislative procedural issues should the press choose to cover that,” Kathleen Dillingham, spokesperson and House Minority Leader, said.

The lawmaker’s wife, Cindy Johansen, who is the corresponding secretary-officer for the Aroostook County Republicans, shared on social media that she is sick with COVID-19.

Neither Chris Johansen nor his wife have received a coronavirus vaccination.

Cindy Johansen posted to her Facebook on July 16 that she had not been feeling well. “Feeling like I’m going to pass out. Have passed out on garage floor, legs were like rubber,” she said.

On July 21, she posted that she was diagnosed with “covid and asthma.” She shared that it was “horrible to be alone” and that she was “going on day three,” an allusion to the required isolation of COVID-19 patients who have been admitted to a hospital.

Chris Johansen has been an outspoken opponent of state-mandated coronavirus restrictions and has organized multiple protests. In April 2020, he organized a protest in front of the Blaine House asking Democratic Gov. Janet Mills to reopen the state’s economy, as well as downplaying the damage that the spread of COVID-19 would have on communities across the country.

A second protest organized later that month flouted pandemic gathering restrictions.

Johansen was also one of seven lawmakers who refused to wear masks at the Maine State House, a requirement that was left in place even after the state’s mask mandate was lifted as coronavirus vaccination rates started to improve throughout the state. Johansen was subsequently removed from his committee position, but continued to push back against State House rules.

BDN writer Caitlin Andrews contributed to this report.

This story appears through a media partnership with the Bangor Daily News.