Republican Rep. Don Young of Alaska won a 25th term in office last week. Photo courtesy of Rep. Don Young/Website
Nov. 13 (UPI) -- Rep. Don Young of Alaska announced via Twitter that he has tested positive for COVID-19.
"I have tested positive for COVID-19," the 87-year-old Republican politician said in a statement on Thursday. "I am feeling strong, following proper protocols, working from home in Alaska and ask for privacy at this time."
Young, the longest-serving Republican in congressional history and the oldest member in either chamber, was re-elected to Congress last week for a 25th term.
He has previously downplayed the risk of the coronavirus, and in March told a group of senior citizens that the threat of the "beer virus" was overblown, seemingly in reference to the similarities between the name of the coronavirus and the popular beer, Corona.
"They call it the coronavirus. I call it the beer virus. How do you like that," he said, Anchorage Daily News reported. "It attacks us senior citizens. I'm one of you. I still say we have to as a nation and state go forth with everyday activities."
Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy and Sen. Lisa Murkowski both sent Young well wishes via Twitter.
"Alaska is with you, Don!" Dunleavy said via Twitter.
According to data from the state's Health and Social Services Coronavirus Response Department, infections have been steadily climbing since September and Alaska reported a daily record of some 600 cases earlier this month.
The department said there are 20,688 infections, 520 hospitalizations and 96 deaths due to the virus.
In a video message on Thursday, Dunleavy told the public that the virus was rapidly spreading throughout Alaskan communities and issued a series of measures, including ordering residents to work from home, if possible, to stymie the disease's spread.