Former Pennsylvania Congressman Charlie Dent speaks on seriousness of coronavirus

HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Former Congressman Charlie Dent (R-Allentown) is a coronavirus survivor. He says he developed a minor cough about two weeks ago, which then progressed to body aches, sweats, chills, and fatigue. He eventually got tested for COVID-19 and learned he was positive.

Dent, who represented Hershey and parts of Lebanon County, says it’s not the worst illness he’s ever had but the symptoms flare up four minutes into our Zoom interview.

He reflexively brings his arm to his mouth and coughs into his elbow like how medical professionals have been preaching for weeks.

Is that the COVID-19?

Dent chuckles at the question. “I’ve had worse coughs,” he said. “I’m not trying to understate this or overstate this. But what happens if this feeling of fatigue won’t go away? That’s my real concern right now.”

And right now, Dent says, is not the time to critique the job that elected officials are doing in handling the pandemic. But when pressed on President Trump’s performance, he did respond.

“Early on he didn’t take it as seriously as he needed to and his communications weren’t helpful,” Dent said, adding that he thinks his former House colleague Mike Pence, the Vice President, has done very well in handling the crisis.

“My advice to the president is maybe he should talk less and let the professionals continue to lead the response. This president, of course, has challenges trying to stay on a message and stay on a script and at a time like this, the president needs to be a reassuring voice,” Dent said.

He quickly added, however, that even if everyone did everything perfectly, America would still be facing a health crisis. “I try to be not too harsh in political judgments at a time like this. We gotta make sure the people fighting this pandemic have what they need to protect all the rest of us.”

Dent isn’t sure where he contracted the virus but says he spends lots of time in Philadelphia and Washington D.C. and recently took a Metro in the nation’s capital.