But Northam, who is a physician, said he was alarmed that President Trump was playing down the severity of the disease while apparently suffering a more serious bout.
“Feeling really good! Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life,” Trump tweeted Monday in announcing that he would soon be leaving Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where he was hospitalized on Friday after reportedly suffering low oxygen levels and had received an aggressive series of treatments.
“That’s absolutely the wrong message,” Northam said, pointing out that more than 200,000 Americans have lost their lives to covid-19 and more than 7 million have been infected. “It’s irresponsible to make a statement like that.”
A former Army doctor, Northam said he had served on the staff at Walter Reed and knows that Trump “has access to the best medical care, medications, treatments other people don’t have access to.”
Northam, 61, learned on Sept. 25 that he and first lady Pam Northam had tested positive after a staff member who works closely with the family in the Executive Mansion had been infected with the virus that causes covid-19.
“I haven’t had any fever nor shortness of breath, no coughing. My oxygen level is doing well. Pam is doing well also,” Northam said Monday, several hours after posting a video on Twitter in which he discussed his symptoms and urged Virginians to continue following public health protocols.
Northam said he and his wife have not received any treatment for the disease but are taking steps to monitor their health. Shortly after getting their test results, Northam said, he asked a security staffer to go to a drugstore and buy a pulse oximeter so they could check their blood oxygen levels.
Because the disease sometimes causes blood to clot more easily, Northam said, he is staying hydrated and getting regular exercise. He walks on a treadmill, he said, and he and his wife take their two dogs out to the gardens behind the Executive Mansion.
“When you’re sick with a virus or have symptoms, it can sometimes make you want to rest — and that’s a good thing, but you also need to get up and move around, get your blood circulating,” he said.
They also monitor their body temperature and check blood pressure regularly, he said.
Both Northams have stayed isolated in the governor’s mansion since the diagnosis, with all staffers sent home except for security personnel. Their adult children have not been allowed to visit.
Northam said he has continued to work, holding meetings via videoconference and talking with lawmakers on the phone as the General Assembly tries to wrap up a special legislative session on the budget, police oversight and pandemic relief.
He has postponed all public appearances, but the end of his isolation may be in sight. “If everything continues to go well . . . our first public appearance will be on Monday,” Oct. 12, he said — at the dedication of a new state park in Gloucester County.
While Northam said he and his wife have been fortunate not to develop severe symptoms, he urged Virginians to continue wearing face coverings, maintaining social distancing and washing their hands. That approach, he said, appears to have kept the Northams from spreading the disease to those around them.
The state has tested at least 65 people who were in contact with the couple and, as of Monday, none had registered positive.
Now that he has experienced the disease firsthand, Northam said, he has personal advice for others: “Continue to be vigilant and not get it. That’s the safest approach.”