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A North Dakota GOP lawmaker helped organize an anti-vaccine rally. Then he got covid and couldn’t attend.

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 11/10/2021 Andrea Salcedo
Three men from the Tioga area of North Dakota, who declined to be identified, attend a "We the People" rally held on the grounds of the state Capitol in Bismarck, N.D. on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, as members of the state legislature begin a special session. Around 700 people from across the state gathered to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates, high taxes, government over reach. (Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP) © Mike McCleary/AP Three men from the Tioga area of North Dakota, who declined to be identified, attend a "We the People" rally held on the grounds of the state Capitol in Bismarck, N.D. on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021, as members of the state legislature begin a special session. Around 700 people from across the state gathered to protest COVID-19 vaccine mandates, high taxes, government over reach. (Mike McCleary/The Bismarck Tribune via AP)

Days ahead of an anti-vaccine rally he helped organize, North Dakota lawmaker Jeff Hoverson, a Republican, urged his social media followers to gather on the steps of the state capitol on Monday to oppose coronavirus vaccine mandates.

“Noon Monday capital steps Bismarck. We The People rally,” Hoverson wrote on Facebook. “Extremely important for freedom from mandates legislation.”

But he did not make it to the event.

On Sunday, a day before the rally, Hoverson announced he would be skipping the event because he had contracted the coronavirus. He said that he did not need to check into a hospital because he was taking ivermectin — a deworming drug that some people are using to prevent or treat covid, despite several public health agencies advising against it.

“Covid is real and like a really bad flu,” he posted on Facebook. “I am currently quarantining and each day is getting better.”

Hoverson did not immediately respond to messages from The Washington Post late Tuesday.

The Minot lawmaker is the latest public figure who railed against mask or vaccine mandates to test positive for the virus. At least four talk-radio hosts who shared anti-vaccine and anti-mask sentiments died of the virus in August. That next month, podcast host Joe Rogan, who had downplayed the need for coronavirus vaccines, announced he had tested positive for the virus.


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Hoverson is also the latest government official supporting the consumption of ivermectin, a drug used to kill parasites in animals and humans, as a treatment for the coronavirus. The drug, which has garnered support in conservative circles, has been promoted by some doctors, Republican lawmakers and talk-show hosts.

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A pastor and father of six, Hoverson has been a member of the North Dakota House since 2019. Last session, he introduced a bill to revoke mask mandates and sponsored failed legislation that would have made it a felony to help those seeking abortions. Last month, he was barred from boarding a flight at Minot International Airport following a dispute with a security agent.

Hoverson told the Associated Press that he was diagnosed with covid last week.

“I’m feeling rough,” he told the AP. “But this ivermectin is keeping me out of the hospital … It’s making me better.”

But it was not until Sunday, less than 24 hours before the rally was set to take place, that Hoverson confirmed he was quarantining and taking the unauthorized drug as a treatment for the virus.

“Thank you, brave soul, for getting me Ivermectin, which now with covid, I am able to stay out of the hospital,” Hoverson wrote on Facebook. He did not identify the “brave soul” who gave him ivermectin.

The Food and Drug Administration and other public health agencies have urged people to refrain from taking the unproven treatment in recent months, warning it could be “dangerous” and potentially fatal. Neither the FDA nor the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have approved the drug as a covid treatment.

Although Hoverson could not attend the Monday rally, the representative told the AP that his three teenage children would be there in his absence. It is unclear whether they attended.

Monday marked the start of a five-day special session during which a bill to prevent vaccine mandates is up for discussion and could gain approval in the GOP-controlled legislature. House Majority Leader Chet Pollert said Hoverson could attend remotely.

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