Following his hospitalization due to COVID-19, former New Jersey governor Chris Christie has admitted he was wrong not to wear a mask while at the White House, where dozens of people — including President Donald Trump, members of his staff, and leaders in the Republican party — contracted the coronavirus.
"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," he said in a statement. The September 26th Barrett announcement, held at the Rose Garden in the White House, is considered a super-spreader event. Christie attended the announcement, plus had been working with Trump ahead of the September 29th debate.
Trump announced he tested positive for the virus on October 2nd. A day later, Christie announced he had the virus as well, and checked himself into Morristown Medical Center, where he was in the intensive care unit for seven days. He said his doctors recommended he be hospitalized due to his asthma. (Incidentally, Christie is a lobbyist for the company that owns Morristown Medical.)
In an interview with Good Morning America, Christie said, "All of a sudden, I got fever and chills, body aches... I was wracked with pain and exhaustion, it happened very quickly. Within 24 hours, I went from feeling fine to being in the intensive care unit." He said it hit him "like a freight train."
Christie indicated he was feeling better and had some of his energy back, estimating he was at a "fighting 80%" while realizing that his condition could change at any time.
In spite of trying to stay healthy and avoid catching COVID-19, especially in hard-hit New Jersey, Christie claimed he was lulled into a "false sense of security" at the White House because of the testing that takes place there. "But I let my guard down," he said. "It was wrong, it was just a big mistake. What I want people to learn more than anything else is I was doing it right for seven months in avoiding the virus. I let my guard down for a couple of days inside the White House grounds and it cost me in a significant way."
He also told the NY Times that New Jersey contact tracers reached out to him, but no one doing contact tracing for the White House event did.
Christie had previously advocated for mask-wearing, telling the Washington Post in August (and trying to make excuses for Trump), "The mask, remember, as my friend Andrew Cuomo says, is to protect others, not to protect yourself. If that's the case then the president wearing it inside the White House, I think, would be more for show than anything else. But outside he should be wearing it."