NEW YORK (Reuters) – Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, having had the coronavirus, said he had been wrong not to wear a mask at a White House event or while preparing Republican President Donald Trump to debate Democratic rival Joe Biden.
Christie, hospitalized for a week after testing positive for COVID-19, told ABC television on Friday the virus hit him “like a freight train” after he experienced mild symptoms, and he had been “racked with pain and exhaustion.”
An asthma sufferer, Christie said he was wrong to let his guard down as part of Trump’s inner circle of advisers and urged Americans to wear masks and take the virus threat seriously.
“It was a mistake,” Christie said on ABC’s Good Morning America. “I was led to believe that all the people I was interacting with at the White House had been tested and it gave you a false sense of security.”
Trump spent three nights at a military hospital after he and first lady Melania Trump tested positive.
Christie said the White House did no contact tracing around his case but his local health authorities did contact him to do the tracing after he checked into Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey.
A failed Republican presidential candidate in 2016, Christie is one of several Trump allies to test positive for the virus in recent weeks. Christie made similar remarks about masks on Thursday, and Trump, who has mostly shunned masks, reacted.
“Well, I mean he has to say that,” Trump told an NBC town hall broadcast on Thursday night. “I think it’s great, he’s a friend of mine, he’s a good guy, and wrong or not wrong, you have to understand, as president, I can’t be locked in a room someplace for the next year and just stay and do nothing.”
Christie said he was feeling “a lot better” after receiving treatment that included Eli Lilly’s experimental antibody treatment and the drug remdesivir. He urged Trump and leaders across the political spectrum to be more “affirmative” about masks.
“We need to be telling people there is no downside to you wearing masks and in fact there can be a great deal of upside,” Christie said.
(Reporting by Maria Caspani in New York; Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu in Washington; Editing by Howard Goller)