OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Pennsylvania Democrat Sen. John Fetterman’s office released a statement on Thursday on his health as he remains hospitalized. The Democrats team said he’s “doing well” and is “expected” to return to the Senate chamber soon after being absent for nearly five weeks after he sought inpatient treatment for clinical depression.
“Fetterman, 53, was weeks into his service in Washington and still recovering from the aftereffects of the stroke he had last May during his campaign when he checked himself into Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Feb. 15,” the Associated Press reported. “Aides said at the time that Fetterman had not been his usual self for weeks. He was withdrawn, showing disinterest in talking, eating, and the usual banter with aides. Post-stroke depression is common and treatable, doctors say.”
“He’ll be back soon, at least over a week, but soon,” spokesperson Joe Calvello said Thursday.
“Fetterman is receiving daily in-person briefings by chief of staff Adam Jentleson, Calvello said. The senator is reading the news and getting briefings, he said, while issuing statements through his office and sponsoring legislation. Aides are opening new regional offices in Pennsylvania. Fetterman had the stroke last May as he was campaigning in a three-way Democratic primary race. The stroke nearly killed him, he has said, and he had surgery to implant a pacemaker with a defibrillator to manage two heart conditions, atrial fibrillation, and cardiomyopathy,” the AP reported.
Fetterman expected back to work ‘soon’ after weeks at hospital for depression treatment https://t.co/u5DZfyUqmj pic.twitter.com/uXaE0GPwlk
— New York Post (@nypost) March 24, 2023
Pennsylvania Republicans have demanded that Fetterman release a video “to show us he is alive and well,” or face intervention from other lawmakers if he is “unable to do this.”
Washington County Republican Party Chair Sean Logue released a statement and questioned whether Fetterman “is able to carry out his duties as Senator.”
The statement continued: “We call upon Senator Fetterman to appear on camera to show us he is alive and well, and if he is unable to do so, we call upon our elected Representatives in Washington, Senator [Bob] Casey and Congressman [Guy] Reschenthaler, to intervene immediately.”
“Ultimately, if Fetterman is unable or unwilling to carry out his duties as a United States Senator, then we ask for his resignation and call for a special election this year; no more lies or games.”
Last week, CNN congressional correspondent Manu Raju provided an update on Fetterman, but it was met with skepticism by many.
“John Fetterman is making progress in his recovery from clinical depression and could leave Walter Reed within next two weeks, a person close to the senator told me. The senator’s physician recently informed him that he will be ‘as good or better than his best days post-stroke,’” he tweeted.
“Fetterman’s stay has lasted this long because the doctors have been trying to get his ‘medication balance exactly right,’ per source. For instance, doctors learned his blood pressure med was too high, which may have contributed to dizziness when he went to GW hospital last month,” he added.
Fetterman's stay has lasted this long because the doctors have been trying to get his "medication balance exactly right," per source. For instance, doctors learned his blood pressure med was too high, which may have contributed to dizziness when he went to GW hospital last month
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) March 14, 2023
His update, however, was met with extreme doubt.
“Prove it. Show video,” comedian and conservative commentator Tim Young noted in response.
“How on earth do you project a timeframe for managing a mental health problem so bad it landed you in the hospital? That’s not exactly how mental health works, especially clinical depression. It isn’t a broken bone,” another user wrote.
“This is ridiculous. Clinical depression is not something you ‘cure’ in rehab. To be admitted for depression is not that common, let alone for this long. Someone is lying and Fetterman is not fit for office,” RedState deputy editor Kira Davis responded.
“I had no idea the recovery from mental health issues and strokes was so simple and straightforward. The millions of people whose lives are wracked with depression and who’ve been severely disabled by strokes will be excited to hear this!” added another.
After Fetterman was admitted to the hospital again last month, his team responded to calls for him to resign from the Senate.
“While John has experienced depression off and on throughout his life, it only became severe in recent weeks,” Adam Jentleson, Fetterman’s Chief of Staff, said when his team announced the senator’s situation.