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Chris Christie says he 'was wrong' not to wear face mask at White House

Former New Jersey Gov. Chris ChristieChris ChristieNIH halts study of Eli Lilly antibody drug for treating hospitalized COVID-19 patients White House to host swearing-in event for Barrett on Monday night Pence travel questioned after aides test positive MORE (R) said Thursday that he “was wrong” not to wear a face mask at the White House after testing positive for COVID-19 and spending a week in the hospital.

Christie told The New York Times that he thought he was in a “safe zone” when he attended the Sept. 26 event where President TrumpDonald John TrumpHillary Clinton responds to Chrissy Teigen tweet: 'I love you back' Police called after Florida moms refuse to wear face masks at school board meeting about mask policy Supreme Court rejects Trump effort to shorten North Carolina mail-ballot deadline MORE officially nominated Judge Amy Coney BarrettAmy Coney BarrettSupreme Court rejects Trump effort to shorten North Carolina mail-ballot deadline Trump fights for battleground Arizona Supreme Court won't fast-track GOP bid to block Pennsylvania mail ballot extension MORE to the Supreme Court. Days later on Oct. 1, President Trump announced he and the first lady had tested positive for COVID-19.

The former governor announced his positive test on Oct. 3 and checked into the hospital after his doctor recommended he do so due to his asthma and weight. He spent days in the intensive care unit of Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey. 

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Christie said in his interview that people should take the coronavirus seriously by wearing masks and social distancing but said there should be a balance between shutting things down and reopening without necessary precautions. 

The White House is looking into Barrett’s nomination event, which Anthony FauciAnthony FauciOvernight Health Care: White House seeks to clarify press release claiming pandemic over | Fauci: COVID vaccine likely not available until next year Fauci: COVID-19 vaccine likely not available until next year Kushner told Woodward in April Trump was 'getting the country back from the doctors' MORE called a "superspreader event," as the cause of the spread of COVID-19 to more than a dozen people, according to the Times

“I believed when I entered the White House grounds, that I had entered a safe zone, due to the testing that I and many others underwent every day,” Christie said in a statement obtained by the newspaper. “I was wrong. I was wrong not to 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.”

“I hope that my experience shows my fellow citizens that you should follow [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines in public no matter where you are and wear a mask to protect yourself and others,” he said.

Christie said he doesn’t know who infected him or how frequently the president was tested, a question that remains after some officials indicated he was tested daily, but Trump said he was not. 

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The former governor said he was in the third row, and “what they told us was that everybody in the first three rows had been tested that day and tested negative.”

“I shouldn’t have relied on that,” he added, according to the Times.

Christie, who was released Saturday and has been cleared to have regular contact with others, said the virus is “something to take very seriously,” noting the “ramifications are wildly random and potentially deadly.” But he avoided specifically calling out Trump who has said he feels better than he has in decades after contracting COVID-19.

He said the reactions to the pandemic are “governed by our two dominant political and media extremes: those who believe there is nothing to this virus and those alarmists who would continue to close down our country and not trust the common sense of the American people. Both are wrong.”

The president also spent time in the hospital after his positive COVID-19 test. But after checking out of Walter Reed National Military Medical Center last week, he called catching the virus “a blessing from God” and urged Americans not to be afraid of it.

The U.S. has confirmed more than 7.9 million COVID-19 cases and 217,721 fatalities since the beginning of the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.