Congress's adaptations to deal with the coronavirus pandemic by wearing masks, practicing social distancing and doing lots of video conferences have lent something of dystopian vibe to its daily work.
But even familiar, safely remote activities like conference calls can turn somber, as happened on a call Wednesday with Sen. Ed Markey, Reps. Nydia Velazquez and Donna Shalala, and union members. Velazquez is one of the members of Congress who have contracted the virus. So the normal pleasantries at the start of a group call suddenly took on much greater weight when Markey inquired after Velazquez. Here's how it went:
Markey: How are you doing? Velazquez: As you know, I just recovered from coronavirus. Markey: And how are you feeling? Velazquez: I’m feeling well. I’m fully recovered, and quite an experience. But it was tough. Markey: How long did it take? Velazquez: Oh my God. It was 14 days basically, but on day eight and nine, on day eight, I felt much better, and I started to do some work, and immediately I relapsed. For two days, I couldn’t get up, I was laying in bed. It basically takes around 12 to 14 days. Markey: Wow. Wow. Did you do it all from home? Velazquez: Yes. But there were nights where I felt like I needed to call the ambulance, but I didn’t want to go to any hospital in New York knowing how bad things were.
And I felt that there were many other people that were in worse condition than me. At least my lungs were working.
But the pain and the fever was just unbearable.