Chris Christie speaks out after contracting COVID-19

The former New Jersey governor talks exclusively to ABC News for the first time since he tested positive for coronavirus.
6:42 | 10/16/20

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Transcript for Chris Christie speaks out after contracting COVID-19
Ashton. Right now we'll bring in Chris Christie, his first interview since contracng covid-19 on TV. First question, six days out of the hospital. How are you feeling? I feel a lot better, George, especially the last two or three days, I've really kind of turned around in terms of being able to recover, getting a lot of my energy back and so I'm not yet 100% but I'm a fighting 80%. 80%. That's progress. Seven days in the icu. You received regeneron and antibody treatments as well? I lived the Eli Lilly antibody treatment and also remdesivir, so I received both of those in combination, very early on in the course of my illness, the doctors decided that because I'm an asthmatic that they wanted to be very aggressive with the treatment and I'm just very fortunate that I have a great hospital right near my home. I have health insurance and I was able to get myself taken care of quickly before the disease got out of control. Thank goodness for that. What did you learn about it? Well, first of all theta very one of the things that's the scariest about it, George, you know, my doctor was come in twice a day and say to me, listen, things look like they might be getting better but they could turn for the worse at any minute. And so it's very, very unpredictable and so psychologically when you're in isolation in the intensive care unit with nothing to do but think that part of it is very difficult and it hits you like a freight train. I felt fine the Friday morning before I started to have symptoms, a couple of days after the presidential debate, and I felt fine and then all of a sudden I got fever and chills and body aches and I was just racked with pain and exhaustion and all happened quickly, within 24 hours I went from feeling absolutely fine to being in the intensive care unit. You also learned a lesson about prevention. You were part of the president's debate prep. Did not wear a mask and were at that superspreader event, the nomination of judge Amy coney so many is there were not wearing masks as well and you say now that was wrong. It was a mistake. You know, I was led to believe that, you know, all the people that I was interacting with at the white house had been tested and it gave you a false sense of security and it was a mistake. You know, I had been so careful for seven months because of my asthma wearing mask, washing my hands, social distancing and for seven months I was able to avoid the virus in one of the worst hit states in the country in new Jersey. But I let my guard down and it was wrong. It was just a big mistake and what I want people to learn more than anything else is I was doing it right for seven months and avoided 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 but fortunately because of the great medical care I got and I think all the prayers that I received from a lot of people all over the country, I was able to recover. But it doesn't make it any less I was wrong. Your candidate about making a mistake and letting your guard down, has the white house learned the same lesson? I know there are issues with contact tracing. Doesn't appear that the white house contact tracing efforts is extensive right now. Well, I know there was no contact tracing done with me, George. My contact tracing was done by my local county board of health. They called me while I was in the hospital to contact trace and make sure they had all that information and I hope so. 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. We need to be telling people that there is no downside to you wearing masks and, in fact, there can be a great deal of upside and I think if we all do that, that's one of the things that we can contribute as Americans. I think we need to be honest with the American people and just say directly to them that we don't know everything that we need to know about this disease at this point, George, but what we do know is that masks can certainly help. Do they prevent everything, of there's nothing that prevents everything but we should be very affirmative. Leaders all across the politics, sports, the media should be saying to people, put your masks on and be safe till we get a vaccine that can help to protect us completely from this virus. As you said the president still not going that far. He's still out there holding rallies every day, most of the people at that rallies are not wearing masks. Have you spoken to him since you got out of the hospital? Have you tried to convince him to step it up? We have spoken a number of times. He called me a number of times, both when I was in the hospital and since I've returned home and I've said this all along that, you know this, is what we need to be doing. Everybody is going to make their own decisions on that. I think no matter what you're doing whether at a rally for your preferred candidate whether you're out at the supermarket, whether you're at a protest, no matter what you're doing, you should have a mask on and should try to remain socially distant from folks. I did it for seven month, George and I stayed health Y I didn't do it for four days and wound up in the icu. What does it say about this campaign and about the president that he won't go as far as you're going right now? Well, I think the country is so divided that at times people think, you know, that they have to say the opposite than what the other party is doing and it's one of the things I said in a statement I put out yesterday. I really do think this virus and the commonsense steps to try to protect each other could help to bring the country together. And I hope that both candidates in these last 18 days make it very clear that this is not a partisan issue. That this is not something that should divide us that what we should be doing is working together to help to prevent the disease from spreading further to other folks. I have been saying that since March, George. I started writing Cowell columns for "The Washington post" in March saying people should be wearing masks and socially distancing and washing their hands because I felt so strongly about it personally and as a public official who dealt with an awful disaster in my state where you had to make your messages really clear and I think that's what both parties should be doing, both leaders of the parties should be doing that and everybody else in a position like you and I have in the media should be saying it and that's why I wanted to be unequivocal and admit I let my guard down, I made a mistake, I was wrong and I'm fortunate to be sitting here this morning in good health for me and for my family. We are glad you're doing better, Chris Christie, thanks very much.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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