North Las Vegas mayor John Lee speaks during a news conference in December 2015, in Las Vegas.
David Becker/AP
North Las Vegas mayor John Lee speaks during a news conference in December 2015, in Las Vegas.
CNN —  

Hours after launching his campaign for governor, a Nevada Republican who had not yet received the coronavirus vaccine said he had just tested positive for the virus.

John Lee, the mayor of North Las Vegas, launched his campaign to unseat Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak on Monday. His entrance into the 2022 race came weeks after he had switched parties, accusing Democrats of drifting toward socialism and embracing “cancel culture.”

Lee, a 65-year-old cancer survivor and former state lawmaker who was elected mayor in 2013 and reelected in 2017, announced his positive test in a Facebook post on Monday night – without explaining why he had not been vaccinated.

“I was informed late Monday afternoon that someone I had come in contact with had tested positive for COVID-19. I immediately went to get tested, and tested positive, while following all CDC guidelines. I am feeling well, with no symptoms, and will be quarantining according to CDC guidelines and consultation with my doctor. I beat cancer and I’ll beat Covid-19. I had not yet gotten the vaccine, and I’d like this to serve as a reminder to all to continue to take proper precautions, as well as ask for prayers for all who have been affected by this virus.”

Lee’s campaign would not address why he had not been vaccinated.

Asked about his reasoning, a campaign spokesperson pointed to the statement Lee posted on Facebook – which does not address why he had not received the coronavirus vaccine. Asked again why he had not been vaccinated, the spokesperson said, “He had not gotten the vaccine yet and will be consulting with his doctors.”

Those in Lee’s age bracket of 65-74 are 40 times more likely to be hospitalized and 1,300 times more likely to die of the virus than children ages 5 to 17, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The CDC and National Cancer Institute encourage cancer patients and survivors to get vaccinated.

A review of Lee’s Facebook and Twitter accounts showed he had not expressed skepticism about its safety or effectiveness – though he had questioned vaccine mandates and any policies that could require Americans to disclose whether they had been vaccinated.

In posts on both accounts on May 11, Lee asked Sisolak to address whether he thought vaccinations should be required for students returning to schools.

“Governor Sisolak, just curious, what’s your opinion on forced vaccinations for students? The public deserves to know,” Lee said.

A month earlier, he said that he opposes “any vaccine passport requirement. Forcing Americans to carry a ‘vaccine passport’ is completely unacceptable and pure government overreach. It is not the government’s place to require any Nevadan to show proof of vaccination.”

“Thanks to many hard-working medical experts, and President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed, our state and nation is well on its way to defeating the COVID19 virus. But requiring all citizens to share their private health records is something you’d see in a communist country, not in the United States of America,” Lee said then, in a statement reported by KVVU-TV.

Last weekend, he also criticized Sisolak’s “notoriously slow reopening of Nevada’s economy” in a Facebook post.

In 2020, when he was a Democrat, Lee had backed Sisolak after the first-term governor implemented a mask mandate.

“We need to support @GovSisolak to keep Nevadans safe and our economy open!” Lee said last June.

CNN’s Maggie Fox contributed to this report.