By Miriam Raftery
Update March 30: Rodriguez-Kennedy has been released from the hospital and contiues his recovery at home.
Three members of Congress, including Republican Senator Rand Paul, also test positive
Photo: Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, Kelvin Barrios and Steve Padilla are all hospitalized with COVID-19
Update March 26, 2020 - Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, the county Democratic Party Chair, is now out of the V.A. hospital after being ill for 13 days including nearly a week "fighting for my life" in the hospital, including "terrifying periods where I struggled to breathe." On Facebook, he thanked his medical team adding, "If there is anyone out there who is not taking this seriously, change your opinion now. COVID19 could have killed me.
March 21, 2020 (San Diego) – Following a troubling national pattern of younger patients being hospitalized with COVID-19, three prominent local Democrats are currently in intensive care units after testing positive for the disease.
Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, Chairman of the San Diego County Democratic Party, is hospitalized in an intensive care unit at the Veterans Administration Medical Center. Chula Vista City Councilman Steve Padilla, who also chairs the California Coastal Commission, has also been hospitalized and on a respirator after testing positive. Kelvin Barrios, a candidate for San Diego City Council in District 2, is on a respirator as well.
Rodriguez-Kennedy posted on Facebook that he began feeling ill last Saturday and had a “rough first night” in the hospital. He praised the medical team for an “amazing job” and thanked hundreds who reached out to voice concern and support. “Please heed the medical advice of professionals and if you have come in contact with me or anyone else who tested positive self quarantine,” he advised, “and if you are sick seek out a medical professional.”
Just over two weeks ago, ECM interviewed Rodriguez-Kennedy on March 3rd at a party held by Democrats on Primary election night downtown, where he was celebrating a “strong night” for Democrats in local elections.
Barrios posted on Facebook that he was hospitalized two days ago and began feeling ill a week ago, around March 14. "While I have been following all social distancing and self-isolation recommendations, I had what I thought was a normal flu for about a week," he said. Barrios described having "bad body aches, sweating, headaches, labored breathing, high blood pressure, and an elevated heart rate” which led to his hospitalization.
Padilla announced a week ago that he had tested positive and was isolating at home. His daughter, Ashleigh, later posted that he was hospitalized in an ICU unit on a ventilator,” I know his amazing doctors and nurses are doing everything they can to send him home healthy when this is all over,” she said. “My father asked me to pass a message: `Everyone needs to take COVID-19 seriously. Please follow the advice of our public health professionals to reduce spread of the virus and take precautions to keep your families and our community safe.”
Nationally, Senator Rand Paul as well as two House members have tested positive for COVID-19. So has an aide to Vice President Mike Pence, reportedly tested negative. President Donald Trump tested negative after being exposed to at least three individuals later diagnosed with the novel coronavirus.
Heeding federal, state and local directives to stay home if possible and maintain social distancing if you must go out, and to stay home if ill, doesn’t only protect vulnerable elderly people. It is also important to flatten the growth curve of COVID-19 in hopes of preventing hospitals locally and elsewhere from running out of respirators – live-saving equipment needed even for younger adults.
San Diego now has at 159 confirmed cases of COVID-19 spread across the region.