Richard Schiff Warns COVID-19 Is Scarier Than You've Read

The West Wing and Man of Steel actor Richard Schiff, who is recovering from COVID-19, told MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell during an interview that the virus is much scarier than how it is generally being portrayed by celebrities and politicians who have had a light viral load and access to top-notch health care. Admitting that "it didn't look good" for a few days and that he had a life-and-death conversation with his wife, Schiff urged people to continue to be vigilant about avoiding the virus even as the coronavirus pandemic nears its ninth month in the United States and so many Americans are frustrated with the precautions.

O'Donnell, who wrote for The West Wing during its run, gave Schiff over five minutes to have his say about his experiences with the coronavirus. Schiff said that his West Wing family had helped him get through the illness with their support and humor.

"It's scarier than you've read, and it's scarier than you've heard," Schiff told O'Donnell. "It wants to beat you. It gets into your system and it feels like wherever you think you can get a breath in, it's going to go there – and that's where the cough is going to go. It wants to stop you from breathing. That's what it felt like; it felt like that for 13 days until I finally went into the hospital."

You can see the video below.

"I can't stress enough that while some people are very lucky to get a light viral road and skip through this thing...those of us that are normal, this thing will debilitate you," Schiff said, saying that he has had serious after-effects in terms of a lack of energy, muscle pain, and more.


Schiff said that he did not contract COVID-19 on the set of The Good Doctor in Vancouver, where he was working when he got his diagnosis, and stressed that the show was doing everything they could to keep the cast and crew safe -- something Schiff himself had been a big part of, because he had been doing everything he could to avoid getting sick.

Schiff recently appeared on HBO Max's A West Wing Special to Benefit When We All Vote, which re-enacted the episode "Hartsfield's Landing," in which the President is dealing with a number of global political crises on the eve of the U.S. election, and can't get accurate polling data because of a power outage. During that special, which was presented as a live stage show and brought much of the cast back together, Schiff and other actors bumped elbows instead of shaking hands and wore masks and face shields when they were not performing onscreen.