WASHINGTON, N.C. (WNCT) — NC Rep. Keith Kidwell, who serves District 79 and Beaufort County, announced on Friday that he is in the hospital after his wife was diagnosed with COVID-19. It has since been learned both have been diagnosed with the coronavirus.
House Speaker Tim Moore confirmed Kidwell’s hospitalization to the News & Observer Friday afternoon. The Raleigh publication IndyWeek.com first reported the news on Thursday.
It was initially unclear whether Kidwell had COVID-19. IndyWeek.com reported Kidwell had symptoms associated with coronavirus. The publication reported Rep. Larry Pittman, a Concord Republican, read a message from Kidwell on the NC House floor on Thursday, saying “My fever seems to have gone Just walking to the bathroom is exhausting.”
Dozens gathered outside Vidant Beaufort Hospital Friday evening to pray for Keith and his wife, Vicki. Carolyn Garris, who has known the couple for years and organized Friday’s event, confirmed to WNCT that both had been diagnosed with COVID-19.
Garris said the event was a way to let the Kidwells know the community is there for them. Garris said Kidwell has done so much for the community.
“We just want to put a smile on his face to let him know we’re here for them like he’s always here for us,” Garris said.
Garris said Rep. Kidwell was admitted to the hospital on Friday while his wife was admitted earlier this week.
“Some people say well you shouldn’t be gathering because of COVID,” Garris said. “We need to get back, and this is a prime example of a community coming together. We’re all here for the same reason, support.”
Kidwell has been vocal about not wearing a mask. He is the chief sponsor of House Bill 572, which would not allow Gov. Roy Cooper to issue an executive order to require vaccination. The bill passed the NC House in May but has not moved further in the NC Senate.