Former New Jersey governor and longtime Trump ally Chris Christie published a striking op-ed in Thursday’s Wall Street Journal that laments “the polarization of something as practical as a mask,” and admits that his own failure to wear one at a White House event last month could have been fatal.
“I am lucky to be alive. It could easily have been otherwise,” Christie writes in the piece, castigating himself for “a serious failure.”
Christie, who was one of a number of maskless guests at a Sept. 26 ceremony honoring Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, previously admitted that he made a mistake in assuming that he would be safe on the White House grounds “due to the testing that I and many others underwent every day.” But in his op-ed, he goes further, saying that public officials “have a duty to get the message out” about the importance of mask-wearing, and that covering up is “not a partisan or cultural symbol, not a sign of weakness or virtue.”
The piece does not explicitly mention President Trump, who has repeatedly expressed doubts about the effectiveness of masks and mocked others for wearing them, remaining resistant even after his own battle with the coronavirus. But it does appear to rebuke his approach. “When Americans are given proper and consistent information, they will overwhelmingly make good health choices, including the wearing of masks,” Christie writes. “But that doesn’t work if partisan media and public officials send mixed messages.”
As an asthma sufferer, Christie says that he knew he was considered high-risk, but made this mistake of letting down his guard. “A week in the ICU offers time to reflect,” he says, later adding, “When you get this disease, it hits you how easy it is to prevent.”