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Jesse Jackson returns after COVID recovery

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The Reverend Jesse Jackson has been released from a Chicago facility a month after he was hospitalised for a COVID-19 infection and intensive physical therapy for Parkinson’s disease.

The prominent US civil rights leader and his wife, Jacqueline, were first hospitalised at Northwestern Memorial Hospital last month.

Reverend Jackson, 79, was vaccinated against coronavirus, but his 77-year-old wife was not. She required oxygen and a brief intensive care unit stay before she was released.

Reverend Jackson’s case was less severe, and about a week after he was first hospitalised for COVID-19 treatment, he was transferred to a physical therapy hospital.

He said he did not have any shortness of breath or respiratory issues after contracting COVID-19, but it did affect his Parkinson’s and his ability to walk and talk.

“The shot protected me from death,” he said of the vaccine.

Doctors and other medical staff described a regimen of about 60 to 90 minutes of daily physical therapy, along with occupational and speech therapy. They said the civil rights leader – who has remained active since disclosing his Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2017 – was full of energy and upbeat.

Before he left hospital for home, Reverend Jackson playfully confirmed with the medical team: “So I can march again?”

Despite his illness and gallbladder surgery this year, Reverend Jackson has remained active and continued travelling in his advocacy for voting rights and other causes.

He has encouraged COVID-19 vaccinations, particularly for black people, and got his first shot publicly at an event in January.

However, he told The Associated Press last month his wife of nearly 60 years was not vaccinated because she had an undisclosed “pre-existing condition” that worried family members.

Generally, public health experts strongly encourage people with existing health conditions, such as cancer or diabetes, to get vaccinated as they are at increased risk for severe illness from the virus.

-AAP