Rep. Ben McAdams: ‘People Here Are Nervous’

Oct 2, 2020, 9:17 PM | Updated: 9:24 pm
Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah. (Photo: James Wooldridge, Deseret News)...
FILE: Rep. Ben McAdams, D-Utah. (Photo: James Wooldridge, Deseret News)
(Photo: James Wooldridge, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Rep. Ben McAdams caught COVID-19 just as the virus was emerging in March, and it was a struggle for weeks to get better.

The illness slowed his re-election campaign and took a toll on his body.

After the president and first lady tested positive for COVID-19, McAdams spoke Friday about just how dangerous the virus can be.

“This virus doesn’t care if we are a Republican or Democrat,” he said. “We are all Americans, and we are all at risk when it comes to this virus.”

McAdams said how much the president will be able to do his job and campaign depends on the severity of the illness.

When he heard the president and first lady had tested positive for COVID-19, he was worried because of what he went through six months ago.

“My prayers are with the president and the first lady,” McAdams said. “We want them to get through this, to bounce back and get back to their jobs.”

If they get as sick as McAdams did, it can be a slow recovery.

When McAdams first caught COVID-19, the symptoms progressed slowly.

“It felt like a bad cold,” he said. “It was the sickest that I had ever been. But, it didn’t feel like anything very serious.”

After one week, it intensified. He knew he was getting sicker one morning right after he got out of bed.

“I couldn’t make it five steps out of bed before I was lightheaded and just panting, out of breath,” McAdams said. “I felt like I had run a race and was exhausted.”

His doctor told him to get to the emergency room. When he arrived, his blood oxygen level was low.

“I spent a few days in the ICU, and a total of eight days in the hospital struggling to breathe and keep my oxygen levels up,” McAdams said. “It was a scary time. I was very very sick.“

He was never on a ventilator. He said he was still sick when he went home and quarantined for a few more days.

“After that, it took me a few more weeks before I felt back on my game,” he said. “It hit me really hard.”

He’s 45 years old, exercises every day and considers himself healthy. But while he was in the hospital he lost 13 pounds.

“The sickest I’ve ever been, by a long shot,” McAdams said.

He said he felt the effects of the coronavirus for about a month.

“I would say I’m back to 99%,” he said. “I still feel a tightness in my lungs, a little bit of a burning in my lungs.”

McAdams had just left the House floor when KSL spoke with him on a video call.

“People here are nervous,” he said. “People wear masks and when we go onto the house floor to vote, people walk out on the floor and vote and immediately walk out.“

They don’t want to get themselves sick or any of their loved ones at home, he said.

“The question is, is Washington D.C., is Congress a hot spot that just hasn’t been diagnosed right now? So people are worried about that,” McAdams said.

He was in D.C. working with colleagues on a coronavirus relief package this week. But now he’s coming home because no deal was ready Friday.

KSL 5 TV Live

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Rep. Ben McAdams: ‘People Here Are Nervous’