Congressman Clay Higgins speaks during a Republican rally Monday, October 7, 2019, at the Cajundome Convention Center in Lafayette.

U.S. Rep. Clay Higgins, R-LA, called face masks meant to slow the spread of coronavirus a "bacteria trap" and claimed they don't help slow the spread of the virus, according to an interview with CNN on Thursday

CNN asked several House Republicans about their mask-wearing habits, which has proven to be a contentious issue as more governments and businesses enforce face coverings that some argue is unconstitutional. Some said they only wear them in crowds. Others, such as Higgins, rejected the use of face masks. 

"What you're wearing is a bacteria trap," Higgins told CNN. "It's not helping your health or anybody else's."

He suggested that because one could smell through the mask, that doesn't stop people from catching COVID-19. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the virus is carried in particles of mucus or saliva that are sprayed when people sneeze, cough or talk. Those same particles are not carried via smell. 

Higgins, who represents Louisiana's third congressional district of Lafayette and Lake Charles, used to work as a police officer who had made many trips to hospitals. Nurses and doctors weren't wearing face coverings then, he told CNN. 

"I have a different medical opinion," Higgins said. 

Other GOP members gave various reasons for not wearing masks. Florida Rep. Ted Yoho told CNN "there's just no need," while North Carolina Rep. Virginia Foxx said they don't need to be worn "all the time."

Higgins opposed coronavirus restrictions in Louisiana early on, criticizing the statewide mandate to close businesses and calling for an early reopening in a Facebook rant. 

Contact Katelyn Umholtz at