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State lawmaker who downplayed virus, mocked vaccines contracts COVID-19

Republican Rep. Chris Johansen told a reporter he had the virus despite publically trivializing the severity of the pandemic over the last year.

AUGUSTA, Maine — A Maine state lawmaker who has been vocally opposed to mask-wearing and downplayed the pandemic has reportedly contracted COVID-19.

Republican Rep. Chris Johansen of Monticello admitted to having the virus in a phone call recorded by a reporter for the alternative news site Mainer.

"Listen up. I've got COVID and I'm really sick," Johansen said in the recording. 

RELATED: Seven Maine legislators out of assignments after refusing to wear mask in State House

Johansen, who helped organize several rallies urging for Gov. Mills to 'reopen' the state during the pandemic, was among several who ignored the statehouse mask policy earlier this year. 

He was also one of seven lawmakers caught on video trying to enter the statehouse without wearing masks and confronting Capitol Police. 

Johansen's wife Cindy, who is an officer for the Aroostook County Republican committee, posted to Facebook saying she contracted the coronavirus.

Day three ... Feeling like I'm going to pass out. Have passed out on garage floor, legs were like rubber. got to get me some ginger ale...

Posted by Cindy Johansen on Friday, July 16, 2021

Both of them have shared several posts downplaying COVID-19 and mocking vaccines. 

NEWS CENTER Maine reached out to Rep. Johansen by phone for comment.

"I'm--uh--I'm not talking right now," he said before hanging up the phone. 

This comes as the state is seeing a spike in cases with new variants surging among unvaccinated people nationwide.