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25 years of reporting in ENC: Working through & covering a pandemic

Published: Apr. 28, 2022 at 6:36 PM EDT
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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) -This month as I continue my look back at my 25-years of reporting in eastern Carolina I’m focusing on one story that has impacted all of us. Covid.

The pandemic has changed all of our lives over the past two years. For those of us who work to keep you informed it also meant personal challenges to try to make sure we were able to do that, stay safe, and fulfill our responsibility during such a crucial time where everyone was desperate for information.

In the early days of the pandemic before we knew much about Covid, I found myself where many people would eventually find themselves, at home working due to concerns I may have been exposed to the virus.

I took to Facebook then to let everyone know what was going on telling everyone, " I hope to be back on TV in a few short days.”

Back in March of 2020, we were just beginning to learn how contagious Covid was, how exactly you might contract it, and what would happen if you did. Testing wasn’t commonplace yet, and if you could get tested, results could take a week or longer.

Myself and former WITN sports anchor Tyler Feldman were both quarantined over possible exposure from a co-worker.

Tyler is now in Austin, Texas working as a TV sports reporter and I recently talked with him over Zoom recalling that time two years ago. He said, “It’s weird because it seems so long ago but it also seems like just yesterday.”

We talked and texted daily about having to be isolated at home. Tyler told me, “I just remember me probably calling you more because I was stuck at home with nothing to do. You at least had your dogs. You had some things there, some breathable living creatures to at least keep you company. I was just, what am I doing right now. I think everyone was just trying to figure out, what in the world, how can you even begin to work in TV from home.”

For me, being sidelined during perhaps the biggest story in our lifetime was not where I wanted to be. But I could only wait for my co-worker to get his test results back, knowing that safety was the name of the game.

Tyler said, “Yes, safety first of course and I think that was what was best about the whole situation was that management was great, very understanding they put our safety first.”

During that time at home, I realized the impact my possible exposure had on others. A person who simply passed by me at a grocery store contacted me on Facebook and asked me to let her know when I knew the test results because her employer made her stay home, all because she walked by me in a store aisle.

Those test results would take a while. One day turned to two, then to three, and it just continued. Ten days later the results were in and thankfully, they were negative. Both Tyler and I were relieved and could return to work.

Tyler told me, “I think I wore a three-piece suit that day. I was just like I have to go, ya know, I don’t know if I’ll be able to do this again. You just, at that point, the perspective was, we might have to go home again so I pulled out the three-piece suit and we had an awesome exchange, and just to be back in studio, socially distant, but that was such a special moment.”

While I was glad to be back at work and have that chapter behind me, it was really just the beginning for all of us when it came to the pandemic. The death toll in the U.S. at the time was less than 50.

Since then, together we have experienced shutdowns, altered working situations, shortages of everything, missed birthdays, weddings, holidays, and other events. There have been financial challenges, masks, vaccines, and the debate over it all. All of that of course we will overcome. And I think, for me, my early experience of being quarantined also gave me the patience I would need as the pandemic would continue to persist, more than two years now from that moment I was notified I had to stay home.

But above all of that hardship we have all endured one way or another, it is the pure heartache of losing loved ones, friends, even those we didn’t know personally, more than 990,000 so far in the U.S. that will always remain the most devastating impact from the Covid pandemic.

Next month I continue my look back at my 25-years at WITN with what has been the biggest mystery I have reported on.

To watch and read my March anniversary report on familiar faces and changes through the years you can click here.

To watch and read my February report on my most impactful story you can click here.

To watch and read my January report on my first story I ever covered you can click here.

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