'West Wing' star describes his dark days while in the hospital for COVID-19: 'It didn’t look good'

Stephen Proctor
·2 min read

Richard Schiff, the former star of The West Wing who is now starring in ABC’s The Good Doctor, appeared on The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell Wednesday night where he opened up about his harrowing battle with COVID-19. Schiff and his wife, actress Sheila Kelley, tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 3. On Nov. 16, via Twitter, Schiff revealed that he had been hospitalized with the disease. A few days later he tweeted that he had been released, and expressed gratitude for the well-wishes he’d received, and for the work the doctors and nurses had done. But he hadn’t fully divulged just how dire things had gotten until he spoke with O’Donnell, who was a writer on The West Wing.

“The conversation that I had to have with Sheila, because it didn’t look good there for a day or two,” Schiff said before fighting back tears, “is a conversation you don’t want to have with anyone, ever. This is a tough one.”

Schiff said that for 13 days before being admitted to the hospital, it felt like COVID-19 was trying to stop him from breathing. Now, more than three weeks since first testing positive, he is still dealing with substantial physical issues.

“While some people are very lucky to get a light load, a light viral load and skip through this thing, especially younger people and athletes, those of us that are normal, this thing will debilitate you,” Schiff said. “All of my energy is gone, my strength is gone, my muscles have atrophied. It’s coming back ever so slowly.”

As there is still a great divide in this country between how conservatives and liberals view the coronavirus, even as it surges across the country, Schiff pleaded with the American people to take it seriously and not just view it as a partisan issue.

Biden has it correct,” Schiff said. “You know, it’s not a political thing, it’s not a partisan thing. It’s common sense. I can’t stress enough to people that you do not want this.”

The Last Word With Lawrence O’Donnell airs weeknights at 10 p.m. on MSNBC.

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