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Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie offered something you rarely hear from a politician — an admission that he was wrong.
The admission that he was wrong about not wearing a mask is significant because Christie is an advisor to President Donald Trump’s re-election team.
“For seven months I was very careful about mask wearing, social distancing and hand washing. As someone with asthma, I knew I faced heightened risk,” Christie wrote in a recent OpEd published by the Wall Street Journal. “Then, at the Rose Garden nomination event for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, and during debate preparations with President Trump, I let my guard down and left my mask off. I mistook the bubble of security around the president for a viral safe zone. I was wrong. There is no safe zone from this virus.”
Shortly after the first presidential debate, Christie developed fever, chills, severe pain and exhaustion. He spent a week in ICU and is now recovering from COVID-19.
“When you get this disease, it hits you how easy it is to prevent,” Christie wrote. “We are asked to wear cloth over our mouth and nose, wash our hands and avoid crowds. These minor inconveniences can save your life, your neighbors and the economy. Seldom has so little been asked for so much benefit.”
“Those in positions of authority have a duty to get the message out,” he added.
Frustratingly, President Donald Trump, who has also been hospitalized with COVID-19, refuses to fulfill that duty to get the message out.
He rarely wears a mask himself. On Sunday, he was face-to-face with supporters at Treworgy Family Orchards in Levant. He was not wearing a mask and many of those at the event did not wear masks even though there was little distance between them.
The president continues to downplay the importance of masks. At a television town hall last week, broadcast from the White House by conservative Sinclair broadcasting, Trump continued to confuse the scientific guidance on wearing a mask.
“I have no problem with a mask,” he said. But, he falsely said there are a lot of different scientific views on masks. He pointed to remarks by Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, saying that Americans should not wear masks. Those comments were made in the early days of the pandemic, when scientists and public health officials were not sure of how the disease was spread and masks for medical personnel were in short supply.
Once it became clear that the coronavirus was spread through airborne droplets and that masks, even homemade cloth ones, could reduce the transmission of the virus, medical and public health officials, including those in the Trump administration, have consistently called on Americans to wear a mask.
A recent study found that near universal mask wearing could reduce deaths associated with coronavirus by more than a quarter between September and February.
“One of the worst aspects of America’s divided politics is the polarization of something as practical as a mask. It’s not a partisan or cultural symbol, not a sign of weakness or virtue,” Christie wrote in his WSJ column. “It’s simply a good method — not a perfect one, but a proven one — to contain a cough or prevent the virus from getting in your mouth or nose. Wear it or you may regret it — as I did.”
To protect your coworkers, your friends, your friends, yourself and people you don’t even know, wear a mask.