Former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on Thursday urged Americans to wear masks to fight the coronavirus, which put him in intensive care for seven days, and warned that the virus is "something to take very seriously."
Christie was one of a number of people with ties to the White House who tested positive for the coronavirus at around the same time as President Donald Trump.
"I believed that when I entered the White House grounds, that I had entered a safe zone, due to the testing that and I and many others underwent every day. I was wrong. I was wrong to not wear a mask at the Amy Coney Barrett announcement and I was wrong not to wear a mask at my multiple debate prep sessions with the President and the rest of the team," Christie said in a statement.
The government's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, last week called the Rose Garden event, where few attendees wore masks, a "super-spreader event."
Christie, a longtime Trump ally, said he has recovered from his illness, and he thanked his doctors and "the manufacturers of Remdesivir and the Eli Lilly monoclonal anti-body cocktail for giving me access to their extraordinary treatments."
"I am confident that all of those factors contributed to my good health today," he said.
Christie also appeared to distance himself from Trump, who said he felt better than he had felt in decades after he was treated with a different antibody cocktail for the virus.
"No one should be happy to get the virus and no one should be cavalier about being infected or infecting others," Christie said. "It is something to take very seriously. The ramifications are wildly random and potentially deadly."
He added that "as a former public official, I believe we have not treated Americans as adults, who understand truth, sacrifice and responsibility."
"When you have seven days in isolation in an ICU though, you have time to do a lot of thinking," Christie said, advocating that people "follow CDC guidelines in public no matter where you are and wear a mask to protect yourself and others."
"Every public official, regardless of party or position, should advocate for every American to wear a mask in public, appropriately socially distance and to wash your hands frequently every day. At the same time, we should be reopening in every corner of this nation under these guidelines," Christie said.
"I believe that these two steps can bring our country together while our pharmaceutical companies invent the therapeutics and vaccines which will rid us of this virus," he added.
"While we may seem very divided today, I do believe we can use this public health tragedy to bring us together. It is never too late to start," he said, but "It will take leadership that both challenges and trusts the American people."
Asked at an NBC town hall event in Miami on Thursday about Christie's comment that he'd been "wrong" not to wear a mask, Trump said: "Well, I mean, he has to say that. I think it's great. He's a friend of mine. He's a good guy. And wrong or not wrong, you have to understand, as president, I can't be locked in a room some place for the next year and just stay and do nothing."