A New Jersey mayor who recently tested positive for the coronavirus antibodies believes he contracted the bug back in November — over a month before China reported their first case and two months before the contagion ostensibly made it to the U.S.
Belleville Mayor Michael Melham told China Global Television Network he experienced severe, flu-like symptoms back in November and asked his doctor to conduct an antibody test for him during his annual physical, according to a video published by Reuters.
“He said, ‘Why?’ I said, ‘Remember how sick I was back in November?’ It just wasn’t right. It was not the flu. I know it was not the flu. It certainly wasn’t my allergies or my sinus infections. And I said, ‘can you please test for it?,’” Melham recalled to the outlet.
“A few minutes later, his head [looked] down and I saw his eyes almost came out of his head. He looked at me and he looked back at it, and he looked at me.
“He goes, ‘You’re positive, you have the antibodies.’”
Melham said he “knew it” even as his doctor said “the timeline doesn’t work.”
“I said, ‘whose timeline doesn’t work? You can’t tell me that I wasn’t sick,’” Melham insisted. “It is my sincere belief that it was absolutely in November and not in January or February.”
It was not immediately clear if Melham became sick again between November and the antibody test but experts have repeatedly said it’s possible to have the virus without exhibiting symptoms.
Further, the majority of antibody tests on the market are yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration and doctors have warned those taking them to proceed with caution and take the results with a grain of salt.
Still, research from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York does point to the virus being in the U.S. much earlier than reported after researchers found the bug first came to New York City in February. The scientists found there is “a period of untracked global transmission between late January to mid-February,” according to their study, which is awaiting peer review.
The mayor said he’s received dozens of emails and social media comments from people who are thankful that he’s coming forward with the story as more and more believe the virus was in the US a lot earlier than previously reported.
“We were overrun, from what I’m told, in November and December with people very, very sick that… tested negative for flu A, and tested negative for flu B, tested negative for strep that were going repeatedly to their doctors in November, in December,” Melham said.
“And then we’re told that they don’t have a flu, they just have bronchitis. They just have a bad cough or it’s a bad cold and I think that we just weren’t expecting it then, so therefore the doctors didn’t know what to call it or what to expect,” the mayor went on.
“By no means [am I] saying that I’m a doctor… but it’s very, very, in my opinion, it’s extremely likely [the virus was here in November], based upon my own evidence, based upon my symptoms, based upon my timeline and based upon the hundreds of other people who also believe they were very, very ill at that time period.”