Christie’s COVID-19 was ‘mild.’ Is that enough to be hospitalized?
It's been two days since former Gov. Chris Christie announced on Twitter he had received a positive test for the novel coronavirus and had mild symptoms — putting him on the early end of a parade of Trump-associated figures to test positive since the president's own diagnosis.
And Saturday afternoon, Christie announced on Twitter he'd checked himself into Morristown Medical Center.
"While I am feeling good and only have mild symptoms, due to my history of asthma we decided this is an important precautionary measure," Christie, whose weight was frequent fodder for late-night talk show hosts, said.
But hospitalized ... with mild symptoms? That didn't sit right with everyone.
From Time reporter Abby Vesoulis, for instance:
Or epidemiologist Eric Feigl-Ding:
"Mild" is a pretty nebulous term — and Christie hasn't said much about the extent of his symptoms. He spoke with the Star-Ledger's Tom Moran by phone from his hospital bed Monday, but the paper's piece doesn't let on about his medical progress. Moran said the former governor didn't sound raspy or cough during the 10 minutes they spoke.
Atlantic Health Systems, parent to Morristown Medical Center, declined an interview to discuss its criteria for admitting coronavirus-positive patients. It only provided a brief statement:
“Every day thousands of people turn to us for care, and every patient we care for is carefully assessed by a physician to determine their clinical needs. Those determinations, including where care needs to take place, are based on their expert clinical judgement.”
Dr. Thomas Brabson chairman of Emergency Services for AtlantiCare — a different hospital group, based in Atlantic County — spoke to New Jersey 101.5 more generally about how coronavirus patients are evaluated for admission to hospitals. He wasn't in a position to address Christie's specific case.
He said throughout the pandemic, people have become more familiar with signs and symptoms of COVID-19 — among them fevers, coughs, sore throats, runny noses, muscle aches and pains, headaches and feeling excessively tired. Recognizing those is the first step toward treatment.
The treatment, for the most part, is still centered around those symptoms, he said. The severity of the symptoms will determine a course of action.
And the symptoms could be considered a more urgent concern they're worsening, or a patient experiences shortening of break — "or any of their underlying conditions would be starting to give them more problems because they have comorbidities or other disease processes," Brabson said.
Those conditions may escalate to the point where an individual may need to go to an emergency room for evaluation. There, a determination would be made based on the patient's biggest problems — whether they're flu-related or caused by another condition, like the flu, Brabson said.
"Someone that needs hospital level care would be admitted to the hospital or if they have something that could potentially get worse. Otherwise we will educate them on what their conditions are and the treatments of their conditions," Brabson said.
So far, Christie hasn't said anything to suggest that's the case. But he hasn't said much at all about his condition. His last public update, other than the call to the Star-Ledger, was via tweet when he said he was checking himself in.
Gov. Phil Murphy on Monday told CBS This Morning he had exchanged messages with his predecessor but did not have an update on his condition.