Rep. Young released from hospital, recovering from COVID-19

Rep. Don Young in Anchorage on August 26, 2020. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

Alaska Congressman Don Young says he’s on the mend after announcing last week that he’d tested positive for COVID -19.

“Very frankly, I had not felt this sick in a very long time, and I am grateful to everyone who has kept me in their thoughts and prayers,” he said in an email sent from his congressional office.

Young said he was admitted to Providence Alaska Medical Center in Anchorage over the weekend but has since been discharged. He said he’s working from home in Alaska.

The Washington Post reports he was in for three days and discharged Sunday night. He told a Post reporter that “many” of his campaign staff became infected, as did his wife, who he said is not showing symptoms.

The most senior member of the House, Young is 87 and was just re-elected to his 25th term.

Young was photographed without a mask at the Little Italy restaurant in Anchorage on Nov. 6, celebrating the birthday of his longtime political consultant Art Hackney. Several prominent Alaska Republicans who attended soon tested positive for the virus.

Among them is former Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell.

“Well, I think I’m going to live,” said Treadwell, 64. “I’ve had a cough coming from pretty much every part of my respiratory system. And what is it now? Early afternoon. I want to go back to bed.”

Mead Treadwell in 2018 (Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)

Treadwell said he doesn’t believe he was infected at the Little Italy party because he wore a mask the whole time, and left without eating or drinking.

“Should I have gone to that event? I wish I hadn’t,” he said. “But I’m not sure it would have saved me.”

Treadwell suspects he caught the virus in his own home when he and a friend watched a football game together and shared a bowl of popcorn.

“We thought we were safe. We thought it was OK to take off our masks to sip a beer,” Treadwell said. “And we still got it.”

He urges Alaskans to be vigilant. So does Congressman Young, whose emailed statement advises wearing a mask and avoiding crowds.

In March, Young joked about the threat, calling it “the beer virus,” a little play on the word “corona.” He later apologized and said he didn’t fully grasp the severity of the illness.

He told Washington Post reporter Libby Casey on Monday that he has a new nickname for it now. “I call it the whiskey virus,” he said in a phone interview with Casey, who used to cover him for Alaska Public Media. “You drink too much and it’ll kill you.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated.