'Trump Republican' county commissioner hospitalized with severe COVID after railing against masks and other safety measures

A "Trump Republican" county commissioner in Florida who has been staunchly opposed to COVID-19 safety precautions is now hospitalized with severe symptoms after testing positive for the virus.

Manatee County Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge, who was taken to a local hospital by ambulance on Saturday, has since been stabilized but continues to have difficulty breathing, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Back in May, Van Ostenbridge championed the repeal of all mandatory COVID-19 safety measures, including masks, in county-owned buildings.

In doing so, he "railed against the guidance of public health officials and undermined scientific studies that found mask-wearing to limit the spread of COVID-19," according to a report from the Bradenton Herald.

"The World Health Organization is corrupt," Van Ostenbridge said. "The CDC is losing credibility by the day and Dr. [Anthony] Fauci — nobody listens to that guy anymore. He's telling us it could be years where we're going to be wearing masks, but at first, it was just to bend the curve."

According to the Herald-Tribune, "The decision to strip all mandatory COVID-19 restrictions followed a suggestion by Commissioner Kevin Van Ostenbridge to go beyond simply eliminating mandatory mask-wearing."

"When the government starts interfering and putting its nose into these things it typically leads to problems," Van Ostenbridge said. "I would like us to get out of the COVID business. People can be personally responsible for themselves, and that's what they should do."

Van Ostenbridge had received the Johnson & Johnson vaccine in June, according to reports. The county has not said where Van Ostenbridge may have contracted the virus, but contact tracing has been completed.

"In recent months, Manatee County government has reported that at least 77 employees have tested positive for the virus," according to the Bradenton Herald. "A number of outbreaks have led to three employee deaths and the 10-day shutdown of the county's library system."