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'I Truly Thought Last Friday Was Gonna Be My Last': Arlington Lawmaker Was Hospitalized With COVID

State Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, on the House floor on April 11, 2019.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr.
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The Texas Tribune
State Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, on the House floor on April 11, 2019.

State Rep. Tony Tinderholt was hospitalized last week after testing positive for the novel coronavirus, the lawmaker confirmed Friday to The Texas Tribune, marking the first known case involving a member of the Texas Legislature.

"I truly thought last Friday was gonna be my last," Tinderholt, an Arlington Republican, said in a text message to the Tribune. Tinderholt said his wife and his two children also tested positive for the virus, though their symptoms were less severe.

Tinderholt said he is recovering after receiving medical treatment from a North Texas doctor. He and his family wore masks every time they went out in public because they felt it was the right thing to do, he said.

"I would like for people to try to mitigate risk by wearing masks," he said. "But wear them because you think it's right. I'm sure it works to some degree — it just didn't for me."

Tinderholt is a member of the hardline conservative House Freedom Caucus, which has frequently criticized Gov. Greg Abbott's response to the pandemic — shutting down businesses and requiring masks in public — as government overreach.

While Tinderholt acknowledged the virus is a "serious illness," he still reiterated his position that Abbott shutting down parts of the economy is wrong.

"Closing the entire economy and halting business as well as illegally taking people's freedoms are absolutely the wrong things to do to Texas, Texans and our nation," Tinderholt said.

The Texas Tribune provided this story.