Utah Rep. Ben McAdams was the second in a growing list of members of Congress who have announced that they’ve tested positive for the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. On Tuesday, he joined ABC News to share the happy news that he has recovered.
“It hit me really hard. But I’m doing so much better right now. I'm virus-free,” he said. “They told me I can be out of quarantine. I still am practicing social distancing and remaining isolated but I'm doing so much better.”
McAdams said he lost 13 pounds while in the hospital. He said that now "I'm back on my feet and back at work."
On March 18, McAdams became the second member of Congress to announce that he had tested positive for COVID-19 just hours after Florida Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart.
In an interview with ABC News after his diagnosis, McAdams said that he started having mild symptoms after flying home to Salt Lake City from Washington, D.C. on March 14. He said he immediately isolated himself and self-quarantined. But when his symptoms worsened and he developed trouble breathing and a temperature of 104 degrees, his doctor recommended taking the test.
In that same interview after his diagnosis, he said his symptoms make him feel “like I’ve got a belt around my chest that's tightened up. I can't take [a] full breath. The muscles in my torso are sore, so when I cough, I feel pain."
Since then, at least two other members of Congress, Kentucky Rep. Joe Cunningham and Pennsylvania Rep. Mike Kelly, have tested positive for COVID-19. Another member, New York Rep. Nydia Velazquez, announced she has a “presumed coronavirus infection.” Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul also announced he had tested positive for COVID-19 in late March.
Now recovered, McAdams is urging all people, whether or not they fall into a category of people with increased risk for the virus or not, to “take this seriously.”
“I'm young, I'm 45 years old, I'm healthy, I exercise every day and it hit me really hard,” he said. “Please take this seriously and follow the guidance of our public health officials. If not for your sake, do it for your friends or your loved ones who you might expose, or just be a part of slowing the spread of, this dangerous virus — flattening the curve so we can treat those people who it does hit hard. Because it could happen to anyone.”
McAdams said the illness was hard on his family, who tried to FaceTime and speak on the phone with him while he was in the hospital.
On “some of the worst days … I just didn't have the energy to carry on a conversation," he said. "We had brief conversations and I let them know I was doing OK. I was on supplemental oxygen.”
McAdams said his family was quarantined because of their exposure to me and “either nobody got it or they had a really mild case… Everybody's doing really well.”
McAdams said that just as he was working from home, Congress should continue to work in an “isolated fashion” and work across party lines to pass legislation “making sure the relief is available to hardworking families.”