Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie admitted Thursday that he "was wrong" not to wear a face mask at the White House, having afterward tested positive for COVID-19 and spending a week in the hospital. In a new statement to The New York Times, Christie said he thought he was in a "safe zone" while attending the Sept. 26 gathering in which President Donald Trump nominated Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court.
Days later, Trump announced he and the First Lady had tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 1, and the former governor revealed his positive test two days later. At the recommendation of his doctor, who cited his asthma and weight, Christie checked into the hospital and spent days in the intensive care unit of Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey before being released. To the Times, Christie said people need to take the coronavirus pandemic seriously by wearing masks and practicing social distancing, but said there needs to be a balance between things being shut down and practicing precautions to reopen.
"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 a statement to the newspaper. "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 [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines in public no matter where you are and wear a mask to protect yourself and others," he continued, calling the virus "something to take very seriously," noting the "ramifications are wildly random and potentially deadly."
The White House is investigating Barrett's nomination event, which Dr. Anthony Fauci has designated a "superspreader event" linked to positive COVID-19 tests in a dozen people, the Times noted. Christie added that he still doesn't know who infected him or how frequently the president was tested, as officials have said the commander in chief was tested daily, while Trump has said he was not. The former New Jersey politician said he was in the third row at the event, and "what they told us was that everybody in the first three rows had been tested that day and tested negative. ...I shouldn’t have relied on that."