MADISON, Wis. - Wisconsin state Sen. Andre Jacque said Friday that he's still using a walker after a COVID-19 infection left him on a ventilator, but that he feels better every day.
Jacque said his breathing is "almost all the way back" and, in a sign of his improved condition, he plans to lead the state Senate's human services committee meeting virtually next week. His comments to The Associated Press mark the first time he's spoken publicly since he was hospitalized in August.
"I'm feeling great and appreciate the care I've been getting and support from friends and families throughout," he said. "Life is good."
He then said he had to get off the phone.
It's not clear if Jacque is vaccinated. The 40-year-old Republican is one of the Legislature's most conservative members and has fought vaccine and mask mandates. He has sponsored bills that would prohibit government officials or business owners from requiring proof of vaccination and joined with other Republicans in opposing Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' statewide mask mandate. The state Supreme Court struck the mandate down in March.
Jacque was hospitalized Aug. 16 after testing positive for the coronavirus and testifying without a mask at a packed Capitol hearing. He was placed on a ventilator Aug. 23 with COVID-induced pneumonia but recovered enough that doctors discharged him from the hospital on Sept. 21. He then entered a rehab facility.
Jacque resides in De Pere and has six children, including an infant. His wife, Renee Jacque, said that five of their family’s eight members tested positive. Of the family’s three fully vaccinated members, one contracted the virus with mild symptoms, she said.
After her husband fell ill, she asked people to consider trusting doctors and get vaccinated. Andre Jacque’s brother, Pierre Jacque, also has encouraged people to get the shots. Renee hasn't said who in the family has been vaccinated and Andre didn't immediately return a follow-up message Friday.
Jacque was first elected to the state Assembly in 2010 and served four terms in that chamber before he won election to the Senate in 2018. His district includes a swath of northeastern Wisconsin, including all of Door and Kewaunee counties as well as parts of Brown, Calumet and Manitowoc counties.