Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) on Friday pushed back on President Donald Trump’s lukewarm attitude toward mask-wearing after he was hospitalized for coronavirus days after failing to wear a mask at several recent White House events.
“You know, I heard the president say last night that he has no problem with masks. I think we should be even more affirmative about it. That’s why I put out the statement I did,” Christie told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos in an interview Friday.
.@ABC NEWS EXCLUSIVE: @GovChristie talks to our @GStephanopoulos for the first time since he tested positive for coronavirus. “I let my guard down for a couple of days inside the White House grounds and it cost me in a significant way.” https://t.co/aYZI2LnNcV pic.twitter.com/h12I8IpPjj
— Good Morning America (@GMA) October 16, 2020
The comments come after Christie was hospitalized after being diagnosed with COVID-19 on Oct. 3, just days after attending a nomination ceremony at the White House on Sept. 26 for Trump’s Supreme Court pick Amy Coney Barrett. The gathering has been called a “super-spreader event” by Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading infectious-disease expert who has repeatedly warned against large gatherings, especially where masks are not worn.
“I let my guard down for a couple of days inside the White House grounds and it cost me in a significant way,” said Christie, who was seen without a mask at the event.
Amid his recovery from the disease, the former governor has also expressed regret for failing to wear a mask while helping the President to prepare for the first presidential debate against Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
White House Strategic Communications Director Alyssa Farah has insisted that the White House has been strict on protocol amid the cluster of cases that emerged in the weeks following the Barrett event, which included an indoor reception. Farah claimed to reporters last week that staffers “always take precautions” with events hosted on White House grounds.
Christie is among a group of at least eight people who tested positive for coronavirus in the aftermath of the Barrett nomination ceremony. He was discharged on Saturday after spending a week in intensive care at New Jersey’s Morristown Medical Center. He has reversed a previously cavalier attitude on masking ever since.
“When you have seven days in isolation in an ICU though, you have time to do a lot of thinking.” Chirstie said in a statement to The New York Times on Thursday.
In the statement he admits he had been “wrong” not to wear a mask.
“I believed that 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. I was wrong,” Christie told the Times.
The comments stand in contrast with remarks made by President Trump, who told “Today” show anchor Savannah Guthrie during an NBC town hall on Thursday night that he was “good with masks” and “okay with masks” — fueling ongoing criticism of his refusal to promote their use.
Christie doubled down on Friday, in an apparent challenge to Trump’s failure to enthusiastically endorse masking, by urging leaders to tell people “that there is no downside to you wearing masks and, in fact, there can be a great deal of upside.”