Vice mayor Phil Cox bedridden with COVID, recovering

Reggie Ellis

Phil Cox publicly discusses his five-week battle with COVID during the Feb. 1 city council meeting

VISALIA – Vice mayor Phil Cox was bedridden with the coronavirus for five weeks but is now slowly recovering.

“I just wanted council to know and the public I’ve been out of sight for about four or five weeks now but I’m on the upswing,” Cox said.

Cox talked about his illness publicly during the regular session of the Feb. 1 Visalia City Council meeting. The three-term councilmember and former county supervisor said he tested positive for coronavirus seven weeks ago. He originally tested negative after a few days of feeling ill and chalked it up to the more common cold or flu. Shortly after the test, “the real sickness set in” and a second COVID test showed he was positive for the virus. Cox said he was bedridden for five weeks while dealing with shortness of breath, extreme weakness and a lack of appetite.

“There was one day when Connie and I thought that that might be my last day,” Cox said.

Cox said the virus took a “tremendous” toll on his body and he rapidly lost weight, dropping below 200 pounds for the first time since he returned from missionary service in 1978. “So not a diet I would recommend,” Cox joked. It has only been a few weeks since Cox started to slowly feel better. He attended the meeting via video conferencing as he is still recovering and trying to rebuild the strength in his legs he lost during the illness.

“So I’m having to build up that my strength in my legs and my body,” Cox said. “But I wanted you to know the COVID virus is a very nasty thing.”

He apologized to the council for missing a council meeting and admitted he had missed a meeting as the city’s representative on the Tulare County Association of Governments, the county’s transportation agency, because he was on his way to a doctor’s appointment in Los Angeles. Cox said he did have a two-hour phone conversation with executive director Ted Smalley later on and was able to keep tabs on projects and funding for the city. He also thanked councilmember Brett Taylor who personally drove Cox to Southern California for his appointment.

“So I am on the mend, I’m doing better every day and right now the focus is to gain just a little bit of that weight back,” Cox said.

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