MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin lawmaker returned to work Thursday for the first time since COVID-19 stopped him from breathing through a ventilator.
De Pere’s Republican Sen. Andre Jacques was hospitalized on August 16 after testing positive for the coronavirus and testifying at a capitol hearing loaded without a mask. He was put on ventilator on 23 August, but improved so much that doctors discharged him to a rehab facility on 21 September. He said last week that he is still using the walker but is feeling better every day.
He chaired a meeting of the Senate Human Services Committee on Thursday afternoon, joining proceedings by phone. He began the meeting by thanking everyone who supported him during his battle with the disease, with “medical professionals” helping him in his recovery.
“Eager to come back,” he said.
He outlined two bills sponsored for the committee. A foster parent will create a bill of rights. The second would create requirements for investigations of elder abuse. His voice was loud while discussing the bills.
Earlier in the day, he attended a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee by phone.
It is not clear whether Jack has been vaccinated for COVID-19. He is one of the most conservative members of the Legislature and has fought for the vaccine and mask mandate. He has sponsored bills that bar government officials or business owners from requiring proof of vaccination and, along with other Republicans, opposed Democratic Governor Tony Evers’ statewide mask mandate. The state’s Supreme Court struck down the mandate in March.
Jacques lives in De Pere and has six children, including an infant. His wife, Renee Jack, said five of their eight family members have tested positive. One in three fully vaccinated family members contracted the virus with mild symptoms, she said.
After her husband became ill, she asked people to trust doctors and get vaccinated. He did not say who in the family had been vaccinated.