First Tennessee lawmaker who publicly disclosed catching COVID-19 describes his experience


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The first Tennessee lawmaker to say he caught COVID-19 describes his recovery as “six weeks in fog.”

“My wife and I both had it,” said Rep. Kent Calfee. “She got sick two weeks before I did.”  

His ordeal not only affected his family, but close friends.

“We had a really tough time for six weeks and we have three really close friends who died from COVID,” said Rep. Calfee Tuesday. “And a close friend, we buried her last Friday, from COVID.”

He added this message about the virus, “So it’s real. It’s real.”

Rep. Calfee described the virus when it first struck.

“When my step-daughter took me to the hospital, I did not know where I was or where I was going, all I could think was where am I going and who is driving my car?” said the lawmaker. “It’s just a fog.”

Rep. Calfee described what he does remember.

“When I got to the hospital my oxygen level was 80%. I don’t remember much of being in a hospital except I was laying on this pad and if you squirmed the wrong way, this awful alarm went off and here come about six people,” the lawmaker added. “So when I came home, I was on oxygen for six weeks.”

Like so many of his Republican colleagues, Rep. Calfee says there’s a balance between lives and livelihoods as COVID-19 numbers skyrocket across Tennessee.

“As far as legislation, I don’t know of anything right now, I think the governor has done a pretty good job,” said Rep. Calfee. “Nobody has ever experienced this before.”

The lawmaker believes he caught the virus from his wife, who recovered as well.

A handful of other Tennessee state lawmakers have publicly said they contracted the virus, but all have recovered.

COVID-19 in Tennessee

(This reflects what the TDH is reporting each day at 2 p.m. CST )

Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of the COVID-19 Pandemic.


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