Brett M. Stassi

Brett M. Stassi

Iberville Parish Sheriff Brett Stassi urged people to take coronavirus safeguards seriously after he confirmed Thursday he has been hospitalized by the virus.

Stassi, 59, spoke to The Advocate by phone while at Baton Rouge General, where he sought treatment after he started feeling sick late last week.

The sheriff said the first test he took came back negative, which surprised him and his doctor because Stassi had been showing telltale signs of the coronavirus-borne illness COVID-19. Those symptoms include cough, fever and shortness of breath.

His following test came back positive Wednesday night while he was at the hospital, he said.

"I'm just glad I didn't go to the courthouse and get everybody else sick," Stassi said.

At the hospital, Stassi said, his doctors have been treating him with oxygen and the anti-viral drug Remdesivir, which has been shown to help patients recover from the respiratory illness faster.

Since beginning treatment, Stassi said, he has been feeling better and could be discharged from the hospital by Sunday to recover from home.

Still, he finds himself taking 15 to 20 minutes to catch his breath after making a short walk to the bathroom, saying "it’s like you forget how to breathe."

Though the sheriff is unsure how he contracted the virus, Stassi urges people to take public health precautions seriously.

“This is nothing to play with,” he said. “They need to listen to the governor’s orders.”

More than 1,500 people are in hospitals across Louisiana after having contracted the virus, according to the latest state Department of Health figures. More than 74,000 people are presumed to have recovered from the illness since the outbreak began this spring.

Since going to the hospital, Stassi said, he has received an outpouring of prayers and support from friends and the community. He even plans to run the jail by phone until he's free of the virus. 

"I know I’ll have a speedy recovery," he said. “I know I won’t be long before I'm better."


Email Youssef Rddad at yrddad@theadvocate.com, and follow him on Twitter @youssefrddad