Tito Jackson, recovering from COVID-19, urges all to ‘stay home’

Tito Jackson, speaking from home to the NAACP Boston branch meeeting, talks of his recent bout with COVID-19.

Tito Jackson, the former Boston city councillor who lives in Grove Hall, says he is “on the mend” after a harrowing bout with COVID-19 last month. He described his experience at a NAACP Boston branch meeting that was held online on Monday evening during which he urged people to “stay home.”

He added: “When they’re talking about flattening the curve, what can be seen is that we are very likely in a situation where we are going to overwhelm our healthcare system, which is going to adversely affect healthcare outcomes.

“We don’t want to have to get to the point in Boston and Mass where people have to make the distinction about who is going to survive and who is not going to survive.” 

The 44-year-old former District 7 councillor and mayoral campaign finalist said he first noticed symptoms on Sat., March 14. “I began to have a little bit of a sore throat and a little cough,” he said. “Sadly, I pushed through and went to a small birthday gathering with about five or six other people. I left, and then that night began to have a really bad headache and a fever. I had a night sweat.” 

Through Sunday and Monday, Jackson said, he began to experience throbbing and aching pains through all of his major muscle groups. “That was really painful,’’ he said, “We’ve all had the flu, so it was kind of like what you feel like when you have achy pain with the flu but times ten.” 

As his symptoms progressed, he said that by Tuesday he became short of breath and felt a shooting pain travelling through his joints. “That affected my ankles and my knees and I had really bad back pain,” he said.

On Wednesday, he called his primary care doctor, who told him that the inflammation in his lungs was likely causing the back pain. Jackson said that his doctor also reminded him that he hadn’t gotten a flu shot, and prescribed Tamiflu, which, Jackson said, helped with the symptoms he was experiencing. 

“About five or six hours later, some of the symptoms began to tamp down, and I began to feel a lot better. I was on Tamiflu for about five days and it really helped,” he said. 

On March 23, Jackson received phone calls from two friends whom he had been in close contact with who informed him that they had tested positive for COVID-19. The next day he went to the Carney Hospital for testing. 

“It took about 15 minutes,” he said. “The test consists of a three- or four-question survey about some of your symptoms and then they take out probably the largest Q-tip I’ve ever seen in my life and they put it in each nostril for 10 seconds. Then that’s it.” 

Early Friday morning, three days after testing, Jackson received word from his doctor that he had tested positive. He has continued to self-quarantine since then.

“Although I’ve quarantined for two weeks and some change now, I will be quarantined until April 8 to make sure that I don’t expose friends, family or loved ones to the disease,” he said. “Although I’m on the recovery side of this fight, I think there is an important message for all of us here.” 

Jackson said that communities of color would be affected by the virus, and need to make sure they have a place at the table when benefits are being dispersed. 

“We know that disparities did not start and will not end with Covid-19. We were behind the 8 ball in a lot of ways before this,” he said, “One thing I want to be very clear on – black people do get COVID-19. I’m not sure how that rumor came about that we don’t, but this virus is seeking to take all of us out.” 

He continued: “We need to make a distinction that this is much more virulent in terms of contagiousness than the flu. It is passed on much more easily and has the ability to clog up our health system in ways that the flu, which infects over a longer period of time, doesn’t.

“I am on the mend, but this is the worst diet I’ve ever been on,” he said with a laugh. “Please be safe. I want each and every one of your families to be safe.”