The Potluck

Sen. Klobuchar’s husband hospitalized; Walz exposed; Flanagan’s brother dies from COVID-19

By: - March 23, 2020 9:48 am

COVID-19 has reached the highest levels of Minnesota government: Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced her husband, John, is hospitalized with the virus. Gov. Tim Walz was exposed to virus, and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan announced her brother died of virus Saturday.

The coronavirus has reached the highest levels of the Minnesota government, afflicting the families of Sen. Amy Klobuchar, Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan. 

Klobuchar announced that her husband, John, received a positive test result for COVID-19 Monday and has been hospitalized in Virginia. 

In a statement posted on Medium, she shared that he started to feel sick and thought it was a cold before symptoms worsened. 

“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,” she wrote. “He now has pneumonia and is on oxygen but not a ventilator.” 

Klobuchar, who ended her presidential campaign earlier this month, had been campaigning for former Vice President Joe Biden in Michigan and other states before the coronavirus pandemic effectively ended all public campaign events. She said she and her husband, a frequent presence on the campaign trail, “have been in different places for the last two weeks.” 

She added that she is outside the 14-day period for getting sick and has been advised by her doctor not to be tested, in part because of widespread test shortages. 

“I love my husband so very much and not being able to be there at the hospital by his side is one of the hardest things about this disease,” she wrote. “I hope he will be home soon. 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.”

Walz on Monday also announced he would be in self-quarantine after learning that a member of his security detail tested positive for COVID-19 late Sunday night. A statement said he had been in “close proximity” to the person late last week, but that Walz is not showing symptoms. His quarantine is expected to last until April 6. 

“The most important thing Minnesotans can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 is to stay home,” Walz said in a statement. “I’m using this as an opportunity to lead by example. Though I’m feeling healthy and not showing any symptoms, I’m going to work from home and model the protocol we are asking all Minnesotans to follow.”

He was expected to provide an in-person briefing on Monday on the latest developments on the pandemic in Minnesota; he will conduct the briefing by teleconference instead, his office said.

Flanagan on Instagram also shared news that her brother, Ron, died Saturday in Tennessee, becoming the second death in that state caused by COVID-19. 

“To many, he’ll be a statistic,” she wrote. “ But to me, I’ll remember a loving, older brother, uncle, father and husband.” 

She said her brother had recently been diagnosed with cancer, compromising his immune system. He died after being put in a medically-induced coma and placed on a ventilator. “He fought it as hard as he could but it was simply too much for his body,” she wrote. “THIS is why we must #StayHome.”

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Ricardo Lopez
Ricardo Lopez

Ricardo Lopez is the senior political reporter for the Reformer. Ricardo is not new to Minnesota politics, previously reporting on the Dayton administration and statehouse for The Star Tribune from 2014 to 2017, and the Republican National Convention in 2016. Previously, he was a staff writer at The Los Angeles Times covering the California economy. He's a Las Vegas native who has adopted Minnesota as his home state. In his spare time, he likes to run, cook and volunteer with Save-a-Bull, a Minneapolis dog rescue group.