A teenage city council member in Decatur, Ala., who voted in April to end his city’s mask mandate, landed in the hospital with the coronavirus Wednesday night after developing pneumonia and struggling to breathe.

“I am still shallow in breathing but my oxygen remains okay for now!” 19-year-old Hunter Pepper, who in August 2020 became the youngest person ever elected to the Decatur City Council, said on Facebook Thursday. “Confirming last night after a ‘CT-Scan’ I am now shown to have ‘Covid Pneumonia’ which is absolutely terrible.”

Pepper said he and his family began worrying after he developed symptoms, including difficulty breathing. He tested positive for the virus on Wednesday morning.

“Everything In me wants to tell myself it is something different but every way I look it’s ‘Covid this, Covid that’ and it has terrified me and my family,” Pepper wrote on Wednesday. “The media continues to report on Covid-19 and explains ‘Death’ each time they do. That is honestly terrifying to me but I have faith in the lord.”

The 2020 high school graduate has supported a hands-off approach to addressing the pandemic. In April, when the city council voted to end a local mask mandate, Pepper said “wearing a mask should be my choice,” WAAY-TV reported. Still, Pepper vowed to comply with private business owners’ requirements on face coverings.

Arguments that mask mandates violate an individual’s constitutional right to liberty might not cut it with the Supreme Court. Here's why. (Drea Cornejo/The Washington Post)

This summer, he criticized Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) after she chided people who have refused the coronavirus vaccine amid a sharp spike in new cases. Ivey said “unvaccinated folks, not the regular folks” were to blame for the rise in cases, adding that those who were not getting the shots “are letting us down.”

Pepper replied on Facebook, saying getting vaccinated should be “your choice.”

“I will NEVER, push something on you or tell you that you must do something or [you’re] not a great member of society … because I don’t agree with it,” he wrote. “I’m here for the people, not just the ones who are vaccinated.”

And last month, Pepper shared guidance from the Alabama attorney general that barred government entities — including school districts — from requiring vaccines or asking people to show proof of immunization. “Read it folks,” Pepper wrote.

It is not clear whether he himself was immunized. Pepper told The Washington Post in an emailed statement that his views on mask mandates have not changed, but he does support people choosing to wear face coverings and getting vaccinated.

“I will do as I can to encourage folks to wear a mask as well as get vaccinated because I can say it is terrible,” he told The Post. “This virus is NOT, Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Independent. It is its very own thing that is destroying our country but people still bring [politics] into it when they should not.”

The city councilman, who suffers from hypoglycemia, had to be rushed to the hospital for low blood sugar in the middle of a board meeting in January.

After going to the hospital again on Wednesday night, Pepper said he and his supporters were keeping a positive outlook. He said he plans to call in to Monday’s scheduled council meeting if he is feeling well enough.

“Maybe this will clear up soon and the symptoms of this sickness shall not progress,” Pepper said. “It feels terrible not to be able to breathe.”

On Friday morning, Pepper said he was no longer in the hospital after receiving treatment for extreme shortness of breath. His symptoms persisted, though, he said.

“I am still extremely sick and am pushing [along],” Pepper said.

“I wouldn’t wish this virus upon anyone, even my worst enemy,” he added.