Tim Walters, a co-founder of ReOpen Maryland, said on social media this week that he has had a dry cough for months but it recently worsened. He then began to experience an excruciating headache, a fever and the inability to focus with one of his eyes, which led to vertigo.
Walters, 53, a diabetic who has had mini-strokes, said he went to a hospital emergency room Monday and was diagnosed with the virus.
“Here I am months after not wearing a mask at rallies, churches and so on, and so it’s funny how capricious this thing is,” he said in a Facebook video.
He did not respond to an interview request.
A Republican and Navy veteran who twice lost races for the Maryland House of Delegates, Walters led rallies in Annapolis, on the Eastern Shore and across the state demanding that Hogan lift restrictions he imposed to slow the spread of the virus.
The demonstrations were part of a national movement to reopen states where shutdowns were in effect.
In his first bid for elected office in 2014, Walters focused on ending the Democratic monopoly in Annapolis, which he said created a “stagnant economy, 80 new taxes, poor job opportunity and unaccountable spending.”
Walters said he planned to post videos on Facebook during his quarantine to provide people with information about dealing with covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.
His diagnosis was first reported in the Capital Gazette on Thursday night. By late Friday morning, Walters had deleted the first two of those videos.
In them, he had urged people who came in contact with him over the past two weeks to seek medical attention if they have symptoms. He said he expected to receive a call from county health officials for information about his contacts but added: “I will not share anybody’s information with the government. I will not do it.”
According to public health officials, contact tracing is a key part of fighting the spread of the virus.
In a Facebook Live video Friday, Walters said he was “on the mend” but having trouble eating.
“My throat is a little raw today because I couldn’t keep any food down yesterday,” he said in a video recorded in his kitchen. “My headache is still with me.”
Some commenters on Walters’s Facebook page Friday called him selfish for deciding that he would not assist contact tracers and said he could be putting other people at risk.
Walters, who said he thought providing the names would infringe upon people’s rights, removed the critical comments. He emphasized that he contacted the people that he interacted with over the past two weeks.
Walters said he had long suspected he might have the virus but was surprised by the toll it was taking on him this week. “It was nothing like what I thought,” he said. “The challenge with this is all the symptoms for everybody are completely different.”
He urged those who think they have already had the virus to not “make that assumption to the point where you’re being less prudent about how you’re behaving.”
Hogan posted the Gazette story to his Facebook page Friday afternoon and reiterated the importance of taking precautions to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
“Our health experts are strongly encouraging anyone who attended a demonstration or mass gathering to get tested for coronavirus, and they are also advised to avoid contact with vulnerable populations,” the governor said.