Ex-N.J. Gov. Chris Christie, who spent week in hospital with COVID, says he should have worn mask at White House

Posted Oct 15, 2020

Five days after being released from a week-long hospital stay for COVID-19, former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said in a statement Thursday he has recovered from the coronavirus but revealed he spent seven days in the intensive care unit of Morristown Medical Center.

Christie also said he was “wrong” to not wear a mask during an event at the White House last month and during debate preparations with President Donald Trump.

And he called on Americans to take the virus “very seriously," including wearing masks and practicing social distancing.

“I am happy and fortunate to inform you that I have recovered from COVID-19,” said the 58-year-old former presidential candidate, one of numerous Trump allies to contract the virus in recent weeks — and the only one known publicly to have been hospitalized, other than the president himself.

“Having had this virus, I can also assure those who have not had it of a few things,” Christie added. “It is something to take very seriously. The ramifications are wildly random and potentially deadly. No one should be happy to get the virus and no one should be cavalier about being infected or infecting others."

The statement is the first major insight Christie has given to his condition and treatment last week, as well as his first extensive remarks about the pandemic since testing positive.

Christie did not blame Trump for causing him to contract the illness. But Christie did say he felt he entered a “safe zone” at the White House because of all the testing he and others have undergone when there.

And the stark tenor of his comments stand in contrast to the way Trump has spoken about the disease both before and after the president’s own diagnosis and hospitalization earlier this month.

After being released from a three-day hospital stay Oct. 5, Trump said he felt better than he has in 20 years as he returned to the White House, said people should not left the virus “dominate your lives,” and called his diagnosis “a blessing from God.” Trump has also been dismissive about wearing masks, though he was seen wearing one in public around the time of his hospitalization.

The former governor — who is more vulnerable to the virus because he has struggled with his weight and has a long history of asthma — attended a now-infamous Sept. 26 ceremony at the White House’s Rose Garden, in which Trump nominated Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court. At least 20 attendees have contracted the virus. Most people at the event did not wear masks or practice social distancing.

Christie around that time was also helping Trump, a longtime friend and fellow Republican, with preparation for the first presidential debate. The ex-governor admitted masks weren’t worn there, either.

“I believed when I entered the White House grounds, that I had entered a safe zone, due to the testing that I and many others underwent every day,” Christie said in his statement Thursday. “I was wrong. I was wrong not to wear a mask at the Amy Coney Barrett announcement and I was wrong not to wear a mask at my multiple debate prep sessions with the president and the rest of the team.”

“I hope that my experience shows my fellow citizens that you should follow C.D.C. guidelines in public no matter where you are and wear a mask to protect yourself and others,” he added.

Christie announced Oct. 3 that he checked himself into Morristown Medical Center after testing positive for COVID-19 — a day after Trump and First Lady Melania Trump announced they had tested positive.

The Mendham resident said he went to the hospital as a precautionary measure despite “feeling good” and having only “mild symptoms.” Because of his conditions, Christie is at higher risk of developing complications from the virus.

Christie was released Oct. 10 after seven days at the hospital.

On Thursday, he revealed he was treated with a combination of blood thinners, the anti-viral drug remdesivir, and an experimental antibody cocktail produced by Eli Lilly. He also thanked the doctors and the nurses at the hospital “their skillful and compassionate care.”

“I am confident that all of those factors contributed to my good health today,” Christie said.

In an interview to the New York Times on Thursday, Christie said he has now been cleared to have contact with others. He still suffers from some fatigue, though not as bad as he did in the early days of his illness.

He told the newspaper he does not know who infected him or how frequently Trump was tested.

Christie added that local health officials in New Jersey called him for contact tracing but he has never heard from the White House for similar reasons.

In May, Christie spoke out against prolonged lockdowns and businesses shutdowns to fight the virus, saying that while “everybody wants to save every life they can,” you also have to consider the economic toll.

“Are there ways that we can... thread the middle here to allow that there are going to be deaths, and there are going to be deaths no matter what?” he asked.

In his statement Thursday, Christie suggested there needs to be a balance between precautions and shutdowns.

“I believe we have not treated Americans as adults, who understand truth, sacrifice and responsibility that I know them to be,” he said. “I have also concluded that like much else in 2020, that the virus is governed by our two dominant political and media extremes: those who believe there is nothing to this virus and those alarmists who would continue to close down our country and not trust the common sense of the American people. Both are wrong.”

“This is not an either/or proposition,” he continued. “The public health consequences of ignoring the virus and the responsible safeguards that we need to take will be additional illness and death caused by COVID-19."

“The public policy consequences of continuing to shut down or re-shut down our country will be further economic devastation to families, even more loss of education by our students and the continuing loss of life through the drug abuse, suicide and depression caused by taking away people’s ability to support their families,” Christie added. "There is another way.”

Christie stressed “every public, regardless of party or position, should advocate for every American to wear a mask in public, appropriately socially distance, and to wash your hands frequently every day.”

“At the same time, we should be reopening in every corner of this nation under these guidelines,” he said. “Reopen all those places which have taken the brunt of these shutdowns and allow our country to get back to a life where citizens can support their families using common sense. Even during a contentious election year, we must trust the American people with the truth. I believe that these two steps can bring our country together while our pharmaceutical companies invent the therapeutics and vaccines which will rid us of this virus.”

“While we may seem very divided today, I do believe we can use this public health tragedy to bring us together,” Christie continued. “It is never too late to start. It will take leadership that both challenges and trusts the American people. After all, we are America, the world’s greatest hope.”

The U.S. has suffered more than 217,000 coronavirus deaths since the outbreak began earlier this year. New Jersey has lost more than 16,000 residents — the fourth most of any U.S. state.

The Garden State has reported more than 900 new positive tests the last three days as officials warn about cases spreading throughout the state.

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published this page in News and Politics 2020-10-16 02:54:48 -0700