Chris Christie: Turns Out This Coronavirus Thing Is Pretty Serious
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“I was wrong,” says the former New Jersey Governor regarding not wearing a mask at a White House event and in debate prep with Trump—who continues questioning the effectiveness of masks.

For most Americans, the extraordinary danger of the coronavirus has been obvious since the pandemic began. But for many in Trumpworld, including the president himself, that message never really got through. When the virus was affecting people who weren’t them, they eschewed wearing masks, thumbed their noses at social distancing and other precautions, and pretty much carried on with business as usual. But now that the virus has inevitably made its way into their own bodies, some are finally getting a glimpse of reality.

As COVID-19 tore through the West Wing following Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court nomination ceremony last month, staffers had a “full-blown freakout” that they would be next to contract the virus—all suddenly respectful of the threat the virus poses after months of taking a lax approach. Donald Trump, who has continued to publicly downplay the coronavirus, worried that he was on the verge of death after being hospitalized with the disease. “I could be one of the diers,” he told people close to him, New York’s Olivia Nuzzi reported. And Chris Christie, who was infected after helping Trump with his debate preparations and attending Barrett’s Rose Garden super-spreader event, is now warning others to take the virus more seriously than he and his friends did.

Christie on Thursday spoke more seriously than perhaps any other Trump ally on coronavirus, admitting he should have adhered to health precautions and describing how the disease nearly took his life. “I was wrong,” Christie told the New York Times. “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 added.

The former New Jersey governor and outside adviser to the president was one of several in his inner circle to announce he had tested positive for COVID. At high risk for severe complications because of his weight and asthma, Christie was soon hospitalized, and spent nearly a week in the intensive care unit, fighting for his life. He didn’t directly criticize Trump in his interview with the Times on Thursday or with Good Morning America on Friday, but he broke with the president over the threat of the disease and suggested White House precautions were insufficient. The virus is “something to take seriously,” he told the Times. “The ramifications are wildly random and potentially deadly.”

Speaking to George Stephanopoulos on Friday, Christie said he had followed CDC guidelines for seven months—but that he “let his guard down” for several days with Trump at the White House, believing it to be a “safe zone.” “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,” he said on GMA. “It was a mistake.”

https://twitter.com/GMA/status/1317069644826542086

“I let my guard down for a couple days inside the White House grounds,” he continued, “and it cost me in a significant way.”

Not only does Christie’s account undercut the administration’s earlier claim that everyone at the Barrett ceremony had been tested — it also torpedoes the White House’s insistence that it conducted contact tracing following the outbreak. “I know that there was no contact tracing done with me,” Christie said Friday.

While Christie’s illness has inspired him, for now, to urge the public to take the virus seriously, it appears to have left no such impression on Trump. Even though he personally feared for his life (my colleague Gabriel Sherman reported that Trump wondered if he was “going out like Stan Chera,” the New York real estate developer who died of COVID in April), he still can’t bring himself to care about others, pushing the same reckless claims that the pandemic will magically disappear and that the virus is nothing to worry about, in a transparent effort to keep up appearances ahead of the November election. “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life,” he tweeted after his release from Walter Reed. “I feel better than I did 20 years ago!”

In addition to continuing to downplay the virus, which has now killed nearly 220,000 Americans, he still can’t stop calling basic health precautions like mask-wearing into question. “Just the other day,” he said during a brutal town hall Thursday night, “they came out with a statement that 85 percent of the people that wear masks catch [coronavirus].”

“They didn’t say that,” moderator Savannah Guthrie said, referring to the CDC, which already refuted the president’s suggestion that wearing protective face masks might increase an individual’s likelihood of infection. “I know that study.”

“That’s what I heard,” Trump replied. “And that’s what I saw.”

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From: VANITYFAIR