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Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson Says COVID-19 'Is Not A Death Sentence'

Chip Somodevilla
Getty Images
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., departs a Republican senate luncheon in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill Sept. 16 in Washington, D.C.

Updated at 4:46 p.m. CT

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, of Wisconsin, said Monday that he never had any symptoms after testing positive Oct. 2 for the coronavirus, declaring that COVID-19 “is not a death sentence.”

As of Monday, more than 152,000 people in Wisconsin had tested positive for the virus, with 1,474 deaths, according to the state Department of Health Services. The seven-day average of new confirmed cases reached a new record high of 2,547, up from 2,395 a week ago. Wisconsin has seen a spike in cases in recent months and has been one of the top five states in the country for new cases per capita.

The number of people hospitalized due to COVID-19 in Wisconsin also hit a record high on Monday at 950, according to the Wisconsin Hospital Association. The previous high was 907 set just four days earlier. Monday's total was up by 61 from the day before and 168 over the past seven days.

Johnson, a Republican, said that while there have been “so many tragedies” for those who test positive, “at the same time, COVID is not a death sentence.” Johnson said he was last tested for the virus on Oct. 5 and again tested positive, but “I have never had a symptom, ever.”

“I’m one of the very lucky 40% who test positive for the coronavirus but don’t get COVID," said Johnson, 65, during a conference call to discuss the beginning of Supreme Court confirmation hearings for Amy Coney Barrett.

Johnson, who said he was shocked that he tested positive, was quarantining at his home in Oshkosh. Johnson said he had a lung X-ray and blood work done last week and that all his tests came back as normal.

Johnson reiterated his opposition to Wisconsin's mask mandate, issued by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. A judge on Monday upheld the order, rejecting attempts by the Republican-controlled Legislature and a conservative law firm to overturn it.

Johnson, who said he wears a mask “in appropriate situations,” said the mandate is “largely unenforceable" and that is why he is against it. Those who filed the lawsuit argued that Evers overstepped his authority by declaring multiple emergencies and mask mandates. The judge disagreed, noting that the Legislature has the power to overturn the mandate if it wants to do so.

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