Tim Walters, Organizer of ‘Reopen Maryland’ protests says he has virus

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Tim Walters, Organizer of ‘Reopen Maryland’ protests says he has virus.

An organizer with ReOpen Maryland, a group that has been campaigning against pandemic-related closures across the state, said in a Facebook video on Thursday that he has contracted COVID-19. He also said he would decline to cooperate with government contact tracers trying to determine who he may have exposed to the virus.

Tim Walters, a Republican and two-time candidate for the House of Delegates from Anne Arundel County, announced in a post on the group’s Facebook page that he tested positive for the virus earlier in the week and would be self-quarantining for 14 days. This comes after Walters led multiple protests across the state to pressure Gov. Larry Hogan to ease restrictions on businesses. The group has also held a number of other events including “no face mask flash mobs,” where members arrived at local businesses without a face covering, according to the Daily Record.

“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 one of multiple Facebook videos discussing his diagnosis. He started a video series to document his experience with the virus, but his video posts have since been deleted.

Walters and other protesters were seen on video multiple times without masks and in close proximity to one another. He also said in a video that he has “no idea” where he contracted the virus.

A preacher at his church who turns 53 in July, Walters has a history of diabetes and strokes. He said he has been dealing with a dry cough, which came back “with vengeance” this week, since March.

“I personally believe that this is just a component of spiritual warfare that we’re all in and Satan is trying to stifle my voice, and it won’t work because Jesus has told me that just rest, I got this for you. So I’m going to rest and I’m going to preach from my couch for a while,” he said on Facebook.

Walters did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Walters encouraged anyone who was in close proximity to him over these last few weeks to get tested. He says he expects to get a call from the county health department inquiring about his contacts, but said, “I will not share anybody’s personal information. I will not do it.”

Contact tracing is a key part of the government’s efforts to contain the virus, as it allows officials to track who may have been exposed to the virus and direct them to quarantine.

While Maryland has surpassed 3,000 virus-related deaths this week, hospitalizations have fallen below 500 for the first time in 12 weeks and the positivity rate, or the proportion of people who test positive for the virus, is at a new low of 4.92%, according to state health department data. In Prince George’s and Montgomery counties, the positivity rate and hospitalizations have also declined.

In Prince George’s County the positivity rate is around 8%, according to county health data. County Executive Angela Alsobrooks plans to move into a full Phase Two on Monday. Montgomery County has also seen a decline to its positivity rate, which averages around 6%, and County Executive Marc Elrich already moved into Phase Two and intends to open additional public library services starting Monday.

State officials, county leaders, and health experts continue to encourage people to wear masks, wash their hands, avoid large crowds, and stay at home when possible because the virus is still out there and there is still no vaccine.

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