Live from Music Row Wednesday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy was joined by Raheem Kassam, the co-host of War Room Pandemic with Steve Bannon. Kassam is a British political activist, former editor of Breitbart News London, and former chief adviser to former UK Independence Party leader Nigel Farage.
During the third hour, Kassam described his recent coronavirus test and the instructions that he’d been giving during the mandatory 72-hour self-quarantine. He noted that he was one of the first to receive the test in Washington, D.C. and that a buffer of time has been created for the results in order to prevent any misdiagnosis.
Leahy: We are joined now by our very good friend and my former colleague at Breitbart who was the editor at Breitbart-London. He is now the co-host of War Room Impeachment. It started out as War Room Impeachment with Steve Bannon. Now it’s War Room 2020. And of course War Room Pandemic. Welcome, Raheem Kassam.
Kassam: Thank you for having me.
Leahy: So Raheem, you were tweeting yesterday that you went in and you got tested for the coronavirus. Tell us why you had that test.
Kassam: Yeah, I did and I’m still awaiting results by the way. There is a pretty long turnaround for testing at least in Washington, D.C. Right now I’m in shelved quarantine. But technically I attended the CPAC conference in Maryland. Maybe two weeks ago now.
And we were told just this past week that by somebody at that conference… to figure out whether or not we came into contact with people not knowing who the individual is by the way. I’m a pretty tenacious detective. I figured it out pretty quickly speaking to a lot of people.
Leahy: So you knew who it was huh?
Kassam: I figured out immediately who it was. I was able to make a viable and I made public the findings of my investigation. Look I found out where this person was and I made it public that I knew where this person was and who he might have spoken to.
Because I found out effectively that he spoke to people that I spoke to within the same time frame. I’m talking within the same sort of 16-17 minutes that I had what is called a “community contact” with this individual.
Now I had developed symptoms over the last week. Pretty extreme flu symptoms. I had a pounding headache. Stuffed up and congested. Everything you would associate with the flu.
Leahy: Did you have shortness of breath as well?
Kassam: I had shortness of breath on Friday and Saturday. I had a fever through the Wednesday-Friday. I had everything. And usually, I’m pretty immune to things and good at dealing with illnesses. A cold will only knock me down for 24 hours.
The flu will knock me down for three days max. But this has persisted for seven days. And you can probably sort of kind of hear it in my nasal way of speaking. It still persists right now. So I thought that I would go to the hospital nearest to me in Washington, D.C. and get tested.
But I called the day before, all the urgent cares, all the hospitals, I called the local CDC, I called the Department of Health, I called the local Virginia CDC, and nobody could get me an answer to what I was supposed to do.
Where I was supposed to go. Whether I was supposed to self-quarantine or report to an emergency room. I couldn’t get a straight answer from anyone on the matter. So I ended up getting in touch with somebody at Georgetown University Hospital. They said we have the test, come by in the morning to the ER.
Wear a mask. They’ll isolate you immediately and you’ll be put in your own room and you’ll be tested. So yesterday I did that. I went in for the test. First, they test for everything except the coronavirus. They actually want to rule out everything first.
You could imagine if this has snuck up on everyone given the fact is a reasonable thing to do until they’re in. So the chest x-ray and the blood tests. The swabbing of the throat and the nose. A little uncomfortable. Everything else came back negative. No ordinary flu. No H1N1. None of these other things.
The doctor comes in and says, look I’ve never done this before you’re my first coronavirus test. We are going to test you for coronavirus. I have to get on the phone to the Department of Health and clear the test.
But we’re going to do that. So she did that. I spent 6 hours in the emergency room in my own private room just off the emergency room yesterday. They came in at the end and swabbed my nose and throat and then sent the test away.
Leahy: That was it? They just did a swab of your nose and throat? That was it? How long did that take?
Kassam: 12 seconds.
Kassam: That is the coronavirus test. It’s not comfortable or pleasant but it’s very quick. There’s nothing else to it. Now look, I don’t know how effective the test is but that’s the test. And they send that away.
You are then sent home with a little pack and the pack tells you what exactly to do. How to treat yourself. It’s very much the same as treating the flu. Try keeping your fever down, and stay hydrated. Most importantly, don’t go outside.
If you must go outside then go to an emergency room if you’re passing out or fainting. You have to put a mask on and you have to call ahead before you leave. If you have to call 911 and call an ambulance you have to tell them ahead of time that you’re self quarantined for the coronavirus and put a mask on before medical professionals will enter your house.
There were lots of things to this. There’s a long video about it. I put it on YouTube last night if anybody wants to watch it at length. That’s getting tested for coronavirus. And now I sit and wait.
Leahy: So how long do you have to wait?
Kassam: Well they say up to 72 hours. Given I was in there yesterday, and they told me that at 1 p.m. I suppose I have 1 p.m. today, at 1 p.m. tomorrow and 1 p.m. Friday.
Leahy: Why does it take so long? What do they do with the biological material? Do they send it to a lab somewhere? Where is the lab?
Kassam: They weren’t exactly able to tell me where they send it. It gets sent out to the local Department of Health, in my case the Washington, D.C. Department of Health deals with it from then on. I think part of that 72 hours is giving themselves wiggle room.
There have been many problems back when the Zika virus was around. About testing and how quickly they told people they would get their tests back. And actually they were giving people the wrong results because they were rushing to meet their own deadline.
I think they built themselves in a buffer intentionally on this one, in order that they are not feeling rushed about putting this thing together and getting people accurate results I hope. I think more than anything, this is because they haven’t had a wroth of these things done. I think only 1,000 people in the country have been tested so far.
So this is new to everyone. The doctor told me it was her first yesterday. The people who checked me in the ER hadn’t seen somebody who had been exposed to it before either. So I think everyone is really new to this. I happen to be one of the first people there. So I think that adds to the delay. I think everyone is very determined to get things correct.
Leahy: How are you doing just in self-quarantine? How are you feeling?
Kassam: (Laughs) Bored. (Leahy chuckles) We launched that War Room Pandemic about two months ago and it was at that point in time that I just stocked up on everything. I have enough gloves and masks, and Lysol, and food, and water, and toilet paper to last me for four or five months.
I did that two months ago. So I’m actually set for everything I need. I don’t need to order in. I don’t need to worry about anyone dropping things off. In the meantime, I’m just working on my laptop with my workstation at home.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading and I intend to catch up on a lot of correspondence on things over the next couple of days that I’ve been missing out on because I’ve been too busy outside of my house. I think it’s a blessing in disguise.
Leahy: Thanks so much for joining us Raheem Kassam.
Listen to the full third hour here:
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Tune in weekdays from 5:00 – 8:00 a.m. to the Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy on Talk Radio 98.3 FM WLAC 1510. Listen online at iHeart Radio.
Photo “Raheem Kassam” by Gage Skidmore. CC BY-SA 2.0.