'It's like nothing else': Klobuchar, husband talk about his battle with coronavirus

Dareh Gregorian

Sen. Amy Klobuchar and her husband on Tuesday recounted the battle with the coronavirus that landed him in the hospital on oxygen — and forced her to stay away while he fought the illness.

"I'm on my own, and I've got to just keep calling and understand that the people in the hospital are doing the best they can," Klobuchar, D-Minn., said in an interview with "NBC Nightly News" from her Minnesota home with her husband, law professor John Bessler, who has recovered, at her side.

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"It's one of the hardest, hardest things — and I can't even imagine those families where they hear the opposite news, you know — after he's there for five days and it turns for the best," Klobuchar told correspondent Stephanie Gosk. "There are people where it turns for the worse, and they're on ventilators, or they don't make it, and it's a heartbreaking thing, and it's why we have to invest in testing and do everything to make up for the mistakes that were made at the beginning, where a country was not prepared for this."

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Bessler said he started feeling sick on the morning of March 12.

"I taught three classes the day before and felt great, and it just suddenly hit me and I had a fever, and that fever just lasted for days and days," Bessler said. "I'm 52, very healthy, and it just hit me."

Klobuchar was in Washington to work on the coronavirus stimulus package and stayed in a different location while Bessler, who teaches at the University of Baltimore, quarantined himself.

The senator said that she phoned him every few hours to monitor his temperature and that he wound up driving himself to the emergency room after he threw up blood.

That "was pretty much a sign that it was really bad," Klobuchar said.

Bessler called ahead, and "they actually brought me in through a door in the kind of a garage area so I wouldn't have to be in the main waiting area," he said.

X-rays showed that he had pneumonia, a serious complication of the virus, and tests showed that he had low oxygen.

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Klobuchar, who dropped out of the Democratic presidential race last month, said it took six days for her husband's coronavirus test results to come back. She said she was in the dark while he was in the hospital and she was waiting to vote on the $2 trillion stimulus bill.

"I keep telling my colleagues this is really serious," she said, adding, "When this happens in your family or to your friends, it's like nothing else."

Klobuchar did not get tested herself. She said in a statement after Bessler was released from the hospital that she and her husband had been in "different places for the last two weeks" and it was "outside the 14-day period for getting sick."

Bessler urged viewers to follow the government guidelines.

"People really do need to pay attention to this, and it can happen to anybody," he said.