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How a Republican senator weathered his case of the coronavirus

Ben Werschkul
·Senior Producer and Writer
·2-min read

In early October, Sen. Mike Lee (R., Utah) announced he had tested positive for the coronavirus.

The result came just a few days after Lee attended an event in the Rose Garden at the White House to celebrate the nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Dr. Anthony Fauci later described it as a “superspreader event.”

Lee was back in the Senate just 10 days later for an in-person – and maskless – appearance during the Senate confirmation hearings for Barrett.

This week in an interview with Yahoo Finance, Lee looked back on the experience and what he learned from his illness.

“I didn't require hospitalization,” he said. “I was really tired for a week or 10 days and had to get a lot of sleep.”

He said he ended up binge watching the NBC show “30 Rock.” The show that often mocks Republicans and starred Alec Baldwin, who went on to impersonate President Trump on “Saturday Night Live” in recent years.

U.S. Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) is seen  sitting at the audience as U.S President Donald Trump holds an event to announce his nominee of U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who died on September 18, at the White House in Washington, U.S., September 26, 2020. Picture taken September 26, 2020. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Senator Lee is seen sitting in the second row as President Trump held the event to announce his nomination of Amy Coney Barrett to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (REUTERS/Carlos Barria)

“I don't know why I was drawn to that,” Lee said.

‘Not particularly fun’

Like most Republicans, Lee has pushed for economic reopening but has also been critical of some who have vocally opposed restrictions during the pandemic. When protestors recently showed up outside the Utah governor’s house, Lee criticized the activists, tweeting “protest all you want, but don’t threaten the family of the person you’re trying to influence.”

Lee said getting the disease itself did not change the way he thought about the virus because his experience was similar to how he had heard it described by others. It “helped me have more empathy for those who have had it,” he said, “but then again, I've been aware for some time of what the virus was like and it was roughly as advertised.”

“Not particularly fun,” he concluded.

Ben Werschkul is a writer and producer for Yahoo Finance in Washington, DC.

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