GOP Rep. Clay Higgins: I have COVID for the second time and this time it's more "challenging"

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

Does he know for a fact that he had COVID before, a la an antibody test that confirmed a prior infection? Or does he just think he had COVID because he had the familiar symptoms?

I mean, every American who had the flu in December 2019 or January 2020 will tell you to this day that they’re a thousand percent sure they were among the first people in the U.S. to have had COVID.

Whatever the truth is with Higgins, it’s bad. Just bad in different ways.

I keep my family’s private business very quiet, because of the evil in the world, yet we are uplifted by the love of God’s children, and quiet privacy does not mean secrecy, so, here’s the update.

I have COVID, Becca has COVID, my son has COVID. Becca and I had COVID before, early on, in January 2020, before the world really knew what it was. So, this is our second experience with the CCP biological attack weaponized virus… and this episode is far more challenging. It has required all of my devoted energy.

We are all under excellent care, and our prognosis is positive. We are very healthy generally speaking, and our treatment of any health concern always encompasses western, eastern, and holistic variables.

The “CCP biological attack weaponized virus,” huh? The lab-leak theory of COVID’s origins doesn’t require, and typically doesn’t claim, that Chinese scientists were trying to weaponize a virus for biowarfare. The fact that Higgins is willing to assert it anyway should tell you which wing of the GOP caucus he’s from.

Like I say, whatever happened in this case is bad. If it’s true that Higgins had COVID in January 2020 and has now been reinfected by Delta, it may mean that anyone who’s been coasting off of natural immunity after being infected early during the pandemic — e.g., Rand Paul — might be at risk of finally losing that immunity. One study has suggested that the immunity you get from vaccination is more comprehensive than the immunity obtained via infection so Higgins’s misfortune may be a cautionary tale for others. Unless you’ve recovered from the virus recently, you may be in the crosshairs of Delta.

Which would be bad.

But what are the odds that Higgins really did have COVID in January 2020? The earliest confirmed case in the U.S. was January 21, 2020, which would put him and his wife among the first Americans to have contracted the virus. Some evidence suggests that the virus was here several weeks earlier, possibly before New Year’s, but … how would Higgins even know that he had been infected in January? There were hardly any PCR tests available at the time. An antibody test taken later could have confirmed that he had COVID at some point, but not necessarily in January. Maybe he was exposed last summer or fall in the halls of Congress and had an asymptomatic infection.

In other words, he very likely had the flu or some other less serious respiratory illness in January 2020 and simply assumed that he’d had COVID. Which means he spent the past six months vulnerable to infection, wrongly believing that he had natural immunity, when he could have gotten vaccinated and protected himself. Given what he says about how his “second” bout with COVID is more “challenging,” it seems especially unlikely that he had the disease once before. Typically reinfection produces a more mild case since the patient already has an immune “memory” of the virus and his system acts more quickly to fight off. Higgins probably never had COVID and didn’t bother to check, leaving him and his family needlessly exposed to infection.

Which would also be bad. Especially since Higgins’s wife has multiple sclerosis and may be at higher risk of a bad outcome.

“I want every American who wants a vaccine to get it. It should be available, and it should be free,” Higgins said back in April. He was unvaccinated due to his belief that he had natural immunity but he endorsed vaccination for those who didn’t, which is to his credit. Unfortunately the advice didn’t take: His home state of Louisiana has only 36 percent of its population fully vaccinated at this point and they’re paying the price in the form of one of the nastiest Delta surges in America. Daily cases have more than doubled over the last few weeks and reached January levels a few days ago. They’re also in the top five of hospitalizations per capita. Vaccine hesitancy is a special problem there because the state is home to two of the most resistant groups in the country, African-Americans and rural Republicans. One doctor in Baton Rouge practically begged Fox News to be more pro-vaccine to try to influence the latter cohort in an interview with Politico:

Doctors and health officials in Alabama and Louisiana say their only hope for getting people vaccinated is if the media outlets that message to these areas, primarily Fox News, start advocating people get the shot, instead of pushing them away from the jab.

“I have people come up to me and say, ‘Why on CNN? Couldn’t you go on Fox?’ They are still very angry over the last couple of years. There’s an irritation. They are super frustrated. They need to hear it from the people that they trust. They need to hear it from where they get their news every day. And I don’t know why not Fox. Why not?,” O’Neal said. “But it has to change this week. Every single show. And it has to be about the community, not the ‘you’ because there’s been too much about the ‘you.’ ‘You’ they got indoctrinated. It is not about ‘you,’ it is about the community. You’re going to kill your community.”

Harry Enten has a piece today too about the Fox News factor in vaccine uptake. There’s a chicken-and-egg causation mystery to it: Are Fox hosts like Tucker Carlson driving viewers to resist the vaccine or are people who are likely to resist the vaccine for other cultural reasons simply more likely to watch Fox? Either way, 62 percent of viewers who get their news mainly from Fox say they’ve had at least one vaccine dose versus 83 percent who get their news from CNN or MSNBC. And that 62 percent has barely budged for months: Enten notes that the share of CNN/MSNBC viewers who got a dose jumped nine percentage points over the past month but the share of Fox viewers rose only one point. Fox’s audience skews old too, which means they should have a high rate of vaccination simply due to their greater risk from COVID. Oh well. I hope Higgins and his family are on the mend and recover soon.