Co-founder of Maryland group protesting state to reopen positive tests for coronavirus

(CNN) The co-founder of a Maryland group that protested the state’s stay-at-home order and pressured Republican Governor Larry Hogan to ease restrictions amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, he says he tested positive for Covid-19.

Tim Walters, the organizer of Reopen Maryland, said in a live Facebook video posted Thursday that he is quarantined at his home. The U.S. Navy veteran and former Republican nominee for the Maryland House of Delegates also said his wife and son would be screened and would continue the 14-day quarantine.

“I had a difficult day yesterday. I told them I wasn’t feeling really well. I fell later in the day, I had to go to the emergency room. I thought I was actually having a stroke … it turns out I had Covid.” He said in the video, and continued later: “As you can see, I am not dying. It is uncomfortable. It would make it similar to having the flu.”

In April and May, Reopening Maryland, a grassroots group, organized protests in Annapolis and across the state to pressure Hogan to reopen the state’s economy. The group in May also joined a handful of religious and business leaders and state lawmakers to sue the governor for his order to stay home.

Walters first shared that he was diagnosed with coronavirus earlier this week in a series of Facebook videos, according to The Capital Gazette, which first reported on Walters’ diagnosis. Walters separately told The Daily Record on Friday that he had removed some videos in which he discussed his diagnosis due to the backlash his family received.

Walters, according to Capital Gazette, urged those he has recently contacted to assess their health, but said he will not provide information to state public health officials for contract tracking, an epidemiological tool that public health officials They say it is key to understanding the coronavirus and stopping its spread.

Walters and Reopening Maryland have not responded to CNN’s request for comment.

Hogan has gradually lifted restrictions in the state, allowing gyms, casinos, and shopping malls to reopen last week, but people in Maryland are still required to wear face covers in commercial spaces and on public transportation.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that Americans wear a cloth face covering in public to curb the spread of the coronavirus, noting that “cloth face covers are intended to protect others in the event that the user you are infected without knowing it but have no symptoms. “

Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Measurement and Assessment, said in a statement that “wearing masks can reduce virus transmission by up to 50%, and those who refuse are putting their lives, their families, their friends and their communities at risk. “

Walters told the Daily Record that hiring Covid-19 after months of not wearing a face mask has not changed his views, “because there is too much evidence that the masks don’t work.”

“I don’t care if you wear a mask or not. I’m not here to advocate for that. I think the role of the government is to educate us so that we can make those informed decisions,” he told the newspaper.

While Reopening Maryland protested the governor’s coronavirus restrictions in May, others in the state have since joined national protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Hogan on his Facebook page on Friday shared the Gazette article on Walters’ diagnosis, using it as an opportunity to encourage all protesters to get tested for the coronavirus.

“As Marylanders has gathered to protest peacefully in recent weeks, I want to reiterate to participants at these events that it is still important to continue to take all precautions to reduce the risks of spreading the coronavirus,” wrote the Republican governor.

“Our health experts are strongly encouraging anyone who attended a mass rally or gathering to get tested for the coronavirus right away, and are also encouraged to avoid contact with vulnerable populations,” he said.

There have been 3,142 deaths due to Covid-19 in Maryland, according to data from John Hopkins University.

The state currently has more than 66,000 reported cases, with nearly 500 people hospitalized, and has examined more than 613,500 people, according to the Maryland Department of Health. According to the department, the majority of positive cases are between the ages of 30 and 39, while the majority of deaths were between the ages of 80 and over.