Congressman who survived COVID-19 on disagreeing with state's reopening plan

Rep. Mike Kelly, 72, tested positive for COVID-19 in March.

May 19, 2020, 2:01 PM

Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Kelly, who himself officially recovered from the coronavirus earlier this month, told “The View” Tuesday that by keeping the whole state closed, Gov. Tom Wolf is “defying the odds” that the virus will spread through the state.

"It's a big state. Certain [parts], there were very little of the coronavirus and very few deaths from it. One of these areas was the one I represent," Kelly, who represents the state's 16th district, told "The View."

By noon on Tuesday, there had been 63,666 cases of COVID-19 and 4,624 deaths across Pennsylvania, according to the state's Department of Health. The agency advises people to "stay home as much as possible” and “refrain from non-essential travel.”

Thirty-seven of the state's 67 counties are currently in the "yellow" phase of the state's three-tiered reopening plan, which lifts the state's stay-at-home order and eases some restrictions for work and social interaction. Closures to schools, gyms, indoor recreations centers and hair and nail salons will remain in place. Twelve more counties will enter this phase starting Friday, May 22.

Kelly, who is 71 and a type 2 diabetic, tested positive for COVID-19 on March 27. However, he was never hospitalized and didn’t experience respiratory symptoms, he said.

PHOTO: Rep. Mike Kelly explained why he believes Pennsylvania should reopen on "The View."
Rep. Mike Kelly explained why he believes Pennsylvania should reopen on "The View."

“I thought at first it was a strain of the flu,” he said.

Kelly told “The View” that in addition to staying home for a month, his doctor prescribed him the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine. The drug has been authorized for emergency use by the Food and Drug Administration to treat COVID-19 patients in hospital settings or clinical trials under careful heart monitoring due to its risk of causing heart rhythm problems. The FDA also says the drug hasn't been shown to be safe or effective for treating COVID-19.

“I can't say definitively that's what cured me, but I can say definitively that I took it,” Kelly said. “I came out of it within about nine days and then I self-quarantined for another month on top of that.”

On May 12, Kelly's office announced that “medical professionals” had declared him free of the virus. He had tested negative for the virus and donated convalescent plasma.

On "The View" Tuesday, Kelly questioned why the Gov. Wolf implemented statewide coronavirus restrictions.

“Philadelphia, completely [is] different than Erie, Pennsylvania, where we had hardly any cases of the virus and very few deaths — never had an overload in our hospital,” he said. “Why do we use a one size fits all? I think it's better [to] give the American people the rules, the guidelines. Tell them how to operate and they will operate safely and smartly.”

Kelly said he has “great faith in the American people” and that giving people mandates rather than a set of guidelines to work with creates a "nanny state."

“At what point do we trust the American people to be not only safe, but smart, and do the right thing for the right reasons? I think it comes down to basic constitutional values,” he said. “Let's work within the parameters, the guidelines that are set out to make sure that if you need to wear a face mask, wear a face mask. If you need to have on rubber gloves, put on the gloves. If you're sick, stay home, wash your hands, keep your hands away from your face.”