Former Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) attributed his decision to retire due to the long-term effects of COVID-19, telling local newspaper Tulsa World that certain symptoms were still affecting him day-to-day.
Inhofe voted against multiple coronavirus aid packages meant to help Americans at the height of the pandemic, including the Families First Coronavirus Response Act approved overwhelmingly by 90 senators in March 2020, and the American Rescue Plan in March 2021.
The 88-year-old did not say which symptoms he was dealing with. But he suggested he was in good company, alleging that other elected representatives in Congress are also struggling with long COVID behind the scenes.
“Five or six others have (long COVID), but I’m the only one who admits it,” Inhofe told Tulsa World.
At least one Democratic senator, Tim Kaine of Virginia, has spoken openly about his experience with lingering symptoms after contracting COVID-19.
Inhofe’s chief of staff, Luke Holland, announced the senator had “a very mild case” of the virus almost exactly one year ago, the same day Inhofe announced he would be retiring.
His seat was filled in a special election by Markwayne Mullin, a Republican who had been representing Oklahomans in the House.
Inhofe was well-known for labeling climate change as a “hoax.” But as COVID-19 began rapidly spreading around the U.S., he urged caution even as he made light of precautionary measures.
“You know I’d be the first to say we’re overreacting because that’s kind of how I am, but we’re not,” Inhofe told Tulsa World in a March 2020 interview where he recalled trying to scare a New York Times reporter with a handshake.