New Bedford mayor recovers from COVID; encourages vigilance, precautions

Kerri Tallman
| Standard-Times

NEW BEDFORD — About a week after announcing he tested positive for COVID-19, Mayor Jon F. Mitchell continues to push forward through the virus.

Mitchell, currently isolated at home, said he feels about the same and never became worse from when he first contracted the virus. He said his symptoms include a mild cough and a little fatigue, but nothing stopping him from working.

“When you’re cooped up in a room for an extended period of time, you can get a lot of work done,” he said.

Mitchell said that he has also not experienced any sign of fever after taking his temperature a number of times.

The mayor announced on social media that he had tested positive for COVID-19 on Jan. 12 and that he would continue to work in isolation at home through the next week. In his post, he said he did not anticipate that his status would disrupt municipal services or compromise his ability to lead the city.

During his time at home, the city has reopened the COVID-19 surge facility in the far North End and made major strides in readying the city for vaccine distribution, according to his post.

More: Regional COVID surge care center opens in New Bedford

As of Wednesday, Mitchell had completed his 10-day isolation period but said he will continue to work from home. His wife, Dr. Ann Partridge, who received both doses of the vaccine, and his daughters continue to quarantine in separate areas of the house. He said his family has tested negative twice and so has his staff.

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Mitchell decided not to receive the vaccine when given the opportunity in December, as he wanted it to go to those who needed it most . Now that he has contracted the virus, he has decided to once again postpone vaccination until “medically appropriate,” as he doesn’t want the city to waste a dose on someone who may be immune. Mitchell would like to get immunity “the old-fashioned way,” since there is still an open question about the immunity to the virus. While he may wait, he said the vaccine is safe and encouraged everyone to get it when it is their turn.

“I’m lucky mine has been a mild case,” he said. “Even though we focus appropriately on protecting the elderly and those with pre-existing health conditions, one can’t assume that COVID will always be no more serious than the common cold.”

Mitchell said he is grateful for his good health, as he emphasized healthy lifestyle practices that put one in a better position to resist illness, such as exercising, refraining from smoking and eating right.

Still, even after following guidelines about wearing a mask, social distancing and hand-washing, he is still unsure as to how he contracted the virus.

“We’ve worked very hard during the pandemic to gather as much information about transmitting the virus,” he said. “It’s been a little frustrating and I am at a complete loss as to how I’ve got it.”

In his social media post, Mitchell listed the places he had visited in the week prior to testing positive, which included the office, home, a local funeral home, a church and a large local store. He wrote that he wore a mask and observed social distancing in all instances and is unable to pinpoint where he could have been exposed.

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Mitchell emphasized the importance of following all safety protocols, but he said they only reduce the risk of exposure and don’t eliminate it entirely. Similar to wearing a seatbelt in the car, he said there is no guarantee you won’t be hurt.

“If we do our part to protect ourselves, we will lower the risk that any one of us will catch the virus,” he said.


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