First, the good news: Singer songwriter Jackson Browne says, “I’m fine – I’m not bad at all” after learning this week that he has tested positive for COVID-19. His symptoms, he told The Times on Wednesday, are on the way, and he believes he is one of the majority of those who become infected who are predicted to have mild symptoms and make a full recovery.
Browne shared his news this week and used his diagnosis to emphasize a message that “Everyone has a role to play for the entire country and the world.”
The 71-year-old musician talked about how he thinks he was hit by the virus, how he was tested and what he does while self-quarantining in his Los Angeles home.
How are you – what symptoms have you had?
I’m fine – I’m not bad at all. My physical symptoms have mostly subsided. There is actually very little of it left.
What got you tested – did you feel ill?
While working in the studio [after returning to L.A. from taking part in the Love Rocks benefit concert March 12 in New York], I followed every precaution, dropped everything, washed my hands regularly. As soon as I felt that I had a little temperature and a little cough, I turned off the work and told everyone: “We’re ready.” The next day I arranged a test, then it was a day before I could do it. I heard at the time that someone from the production crew at the Love Rocks show had made it. It was a strong indication to me that I probably had it. But I didn’t know until yesterday when my test came back [positive].
At that time I did not get sicker and sicker. It wasn’t even the sick one where I would miss a work day, the kind that would usually turn into a huge breast cough – nothing like that, it was just weird. And who told me that this was not like other colds or flu – to me, anyway. I feel very happy. It didn’t hit me that bad. I have friends who were in the production crew in New York who are pretty sick. It just shows that you don’t know if you’re going to be one of those who gets really hard on it.
Have you been hospitalized or prescribed any treatment?
No. If I had problems, I think I would have been treated. If I told my doctor that I couldn’t breathe, I would get something. I feel lucky that I didn’t have to go to the hospital or use any supplies or medication that others really need.
Describe the process to be tested. Was it through your private doctor?
Yes. It takes some time because there are so few test kits. But the real shortcoming is of the protective clothing and masks that healthcare professionals need to protect themselves. That’s a real problem. It took a long time to get the results back, I think, just because of the number of tests put in. They are all sent to a central test center. They were so busy they couldn’t even log in. It was really very upsetting – it didn’t turn out that they had even gotten it. Then they finally got it and I knew.
How do you isolate – are there any other family members at home too or just you?
Just me, completely solo. I passed it on to my son [Ethan, the elder of his two children]. He isolates in his house and his symptoms are also somewhat mild. He didn’t go to New York. He had the foresight to say, “Don’t go.” I believed in my ignorance that it was manageable, that you could be careful, follow the procedures and be safe. My son was right, and I shouldn’t have gone to this show.
How do you spend your time?
Play music, listen, read and work on some songs [for a new album he may release this fall]. But I really take a lot of time to communicate with everyone.
What do you think of President Trump’s response to the crisis?
How can you take this administration seriously when they all get up there at these press conferences, stand close to each other, touch the microphone, shake hands and pat each other on the back? How can you not think, “Why should I listen to these guys?”
And now Trump is saying that we should be back again at Easter, and he’s just so full of the wrong information, even if Anthony Fauci rises to correct him at every step. Good for Fauci for doing the job, because it has to be done. Someone needs to correct these lies and misinformation and stupid statements coming out of them.
Besides the lack of test kits and protective equipment for healthcare professionals, what do you see more as a need in the fight against this virus?
I think some leadership is needed – because we have to protect the people we depend on to deliver food, to deliver medical services, the people who take care of us as we go through this. If you don’t have a significant job like that, then your job is to make sure these people don’t get sick.