Steve Padilla

“I’m One of the Lucky Ones’: Chula Vista Councilman Recovering From COVID-19

Chula Vista Councilmember Steve Padilla may have been the first California politician to be diagnosed with the deadly virus

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Chula Vista Councilman and California Coastal Commission chairman Steve Padilla returned home from the hospital over the weekend after battling the coronavirus for nearly a month.

"It's been an incredibly emotional journey for me, but I'm doing well," Padilla told NBC 7 over FaceTime on Tuesday. "I'm one of the lucky ones."

The native San Diegan announced on social media on March 14 that he had tested positive for the disease. He wanted to let people know so that anyone who had recently come in contact with him could get tested.

"I felt that obligation," Padilla said.

In the video from mid-March, Padilla said he was "doing very well" and "feeling well," but days later he was in the hospital on a ventilator.

"What is so insidious about this particular virus is that when people go into respiratory distress ... it happens often very rapidly," Padilla said, adding, "I was fine until I wasn't."

Doctors at UC San Diego Thornton Hospital quickly intubated Padilla, and he said that saved his life.

"Had they not ventilated me quickly and conservatively the way that they did, I'm not sure that I'd be sitting here talking to you right now," Padilla told NBC 7 on Tuesday.

Padilla now hopes to use his political pulpits more, focused in the short term on helping medical teams and patients get what they need to battle coronavirus.

"We need to be sure that we're going to get all the resources for the frontline healthcare professionals," Padilla said.

Padilla left the hospital with his daughter, and while he believes he's no longer contagious and the virus is fully out of him, he's still taking all precautions, including wearing masks and social distancing.

"I plan to use this voice for a lot more in the future because I really do feel I've been given a new lease on life," Padilla said.

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