"As much as I love being on your show, I would rather be with him right now," Klobuchar said on Good Morning America about husband John Bessler's condition

By Adam Carlson
March 24, 2020 08:18 AM

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar appeared on Good Morning America on Tuesday where she talked about her husband’s coronavirus diagnosis and hospitalization — and how they are far from alone in grappling with this sudden health crisis.

“One of the hardest things about this disease is that you want to be near your loved ones and you can’t do that,” Klobuchar, 59, said. “As much as I love being on your show, I would rather be with him right now. All you can do is call, email and text and try to reach the caretakers — I’ve never even met them — to get updates. And it’s all Americans. This isn’t just my story.”

Klobuchar first announced husband John Bessler’s condition in a statement on Monday morning.

She said then that he first started to feel sick while in the Washington, D.C., area — he teaches at the University of Baltimore’s law school — “and like so many others who have had the disease, he thought it was just a cold.”

From left: Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar and John Bessler
Mark Sagliocco/WireImage

“Yet he immediately quarantined himself just in case and stopped going to his job teaching in Baltimore,” the lawmaker and former presidential candidate said in her Monday statement. “He kept having a temperature and a bad, bad cough and when he started coughing up blood he got a test and a chest X-ray and they checked him into a hospital in Virginia because of a variety of things including very low oxygen levels which haven’t really improved.”

The test results confirming his diagnosis of coronavirus, which causes the respiratory disease COVID-19, came in at 7 a.m. Monday.

On GMA on Tuesday, Klobuchar said they “don’t know how he got it — no one around got it.”

“He’s 52 and he’s very healthy,” she said of Bessler, whom she married in 1993. The two share a daughter, Abigail.

“He started to feel sick about 12 days ago and the minute he started to feel sick he sequestered himself in the apartment — that’s all he thought he thought it was. And to be safe he did that, and then he started coughing up the blood and he got the test,” she said.

Bessler “now has pneumonia and is on oxygen but not a ventilator,” Klobuchar said Monday.

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From left: John Bessler and Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar
Scott Eisen/Getty Images
Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar with husband John Bessler (left) and daughter Abigail

On Tuesday she reiterated that she and her husband had not been in physical contact in recent weeks before his diagnosis and so she was not being tested for the virus.

“I talked to my doctor and he said, ‘You know you wouldn’t qualify, you don’t have symptoms and you haven’t been around him for 14 days, so why would I get a test when other people who are sick aren’t getting tests?’ ” Klobuchar said on GMA. “You’ve got to follow the rules, and his story is one of following the rules.”

“As far as we know he didn’t infect anyone else,” she said.

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The new coronavirus, which first emerged in China in late 2019, has infected more than 390,000 people worldwide as of Tuesday morning, including about 43,000 people in the U.S., according to available data.

There have been about 17,100 deaths around the world and 537 in the U.S.

Political figures, whose jobs require extensive contact with the public, have been vulnerable to infection as have their families.

Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul confirmed over the weekend he had tested positive for the virus. Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau‘s wife, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, tested positive earlier this month after a trip to the U.K. Miami’s mayor, Francis Suarez, also contracted the virus, as did Reps. Ben McAdams and Mario Diaz-Balart.

The White House said both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence tested negative after coming into contact with people who later discovered they had the virus.

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In her Monday statement, Klobuchar said, “I know so many Americans are going through this and so much worse right now. So I hope and pray for you, just as I hope you will do for my husband. Meanwhile I am working in the Senate to get help to the American people.”

On Twitter that same day, she shared an article about Minnesota’s lieutenant governor, Peggy Flanagan, whose brother died of the virus.

“This virus is affecting so many Americans and together we must work on getting the medical supplies and treatments to those who are sick,” she wrote.

On Tuesday Congress was set to continue trying to hash out their differences on a trillion-dollar relief bill for those affected by the viruses — including hospitals, businesses and workers — after passing earlier, smaller funding legislation.

To prevent the spread of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages maintaining basic forms of hygiene including careful hand washing, avoiding touching the face, moving away from people who are coughing or sneezing and staying home at signs of illness.

Health officials have also urged people around the country to practice “social distancing” and avoid gatherings and stay home as much as possible to slow new infections.

As information about the coronavirus pandemic rapidly changes, PEOPLE is committed to providing the most recent data in our coverage. Some of the information in this story may have changed after publication. For the latest on COVID-19, readers are encouraged to use online resources from CDC, WHO, and local public health departments and visit our coronavirus hub.