Teenage Alabama city councilman who voted against mask mandate tests positive for COVID-19

A teenager who last year became the youngest person ever elected to his city council revealed this week that he has tested positive for COVID-19 just months after voting to end a local mask mandate. 

Hunter Pepper, 19, told local NBC affiliate WAFF that he received two positive COVID-19 tests Wednesday and spent more than six hours at a local hospital, where he said he was diagnosed with “COVID pneumonia.” 

“I didn’t think they were as bad as they are, and they are, they’re terrible, I mean, they’re terrible and it is rough,” the Decatur City Council member said of the virus. 

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According to The Washington Post, Pepper wrote in a private post on his Facebook page Wednesday that his condition “has terrified me and my family.” 

“The media continues to report on Covid-19 and explains ‘Death’ each time they do,” he reportedly added. “That is honestly terrifying to me but I have faith in the lord.”

Pepper, whose symptoms included difficulty breathing, fever, headache and vomiting, told WAFF that he was now at home and that his condition was gradually improving. 

In April, Pepper was among the council members who voted to lift the city’s mask mandate, saying at the time that he believed “wearing a mask should be my choice,” local ABC affiliate WAAY reported

The teen also took to Facebook over the summer to criticize Alabama Gov. Kay IveyKay IveyAlabama using COVID funds to build new prisons — is that Biden's vision? Street honoring Confederate president renamed in Alabama capital Alabama clears plan to use COVID-19 relief funds to build prisons MORE (R), who blamed “unvaccinated folks” for recent surges in COVID-19 cases, arguing that those refusing to get the vaccine were “letting us down.”

Pepper wrote in a public post at the time, “If you choose to get vaccinated that is your choice.” 

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“I will NEVER, push something on you or tell you that you must do something or your not a great member of society (sorta like Govenor Ivey did yesterday) because I don’t agree with it,” he added. 

Pepper told WAFF this week that he has received criticism for his past remarks since he announced his COVID-19 diagnosis, explaining, “I’ve had folks tell me that they hope there’s no ventilator available for me.” 

“It’s terrible, and I hope I don’t have to be put on a ventilator,” he added. “Everybody has the right to their opinion and should never be torn down and wished death upon because of something that they believe in.” 

The councilman added that while his personal opinion on the importance of COVID-19 safety restrictions has changed, he still does not believe that governments should impose mask or vaccine requirements on citizens. 

“I’m not saying that it should be mandated and I’m not saying that vaccinations should be mandated, but I feel that everybody should play their part,” he told the local news outlet.