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Former 'All Things Considered' Host Robert Siegel Tests Positive For Coronavirus


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon.

ROBERT SIEGEL: And I'm Robert Siegel.

SIMON: Yes, that one...

SIEGEL: (Laughter).

SIMON: ...Our friend who used to host a daily program called - what is it? - All Things Considered. He joins us now from his home in suburban Washington, D.C. Robert, glad to have you with us.

SIEGEL: It's nice to be here.

SIMON: And I'm glad to hear strength in your voice because you've tested positive for the coronavirus. How are you?

SIEGEL: I'm fine, actually. I tested positive earlier this week. Actually, about two weeks ago, I began feeling symptoms of a cough and a cold. While it's unfortunate that both I and my wife, Jane, we both tested positive for COVID-19, we both seem to have contracted pretty mild cases of it, even though I thought I was leading a pretty isolated life. I can't begin to explain to you how I contracted it.

SIMON: I mean, I know you've been over this in your mind. You've retraced your steps. Any - I mean...

SIEGEL: Jane - my wife, Jane, feels that I must have contracted it in the supermarket since I went there so often. So we've converted to delivery, to home delivery of groceries now. But the thing that has struck me so much is that back in March or April, a very, very good old friend came down with COVID. And, in fact, he had to be hospitalized for a couple of days. Also - and I think March, as things were just beginning in New York, my sister's next-door neighbor in the next apartment was a gentleman whom we knew. He was in his late 80s, came back from a cruise, was hospitalized and died of COVID. That was the extent of people I knew who were part of this thing that had reshaped our lives and the way we do everything.

In the past few weeks, since December, a very dear friend of my sister and brother-in-law has tested positive. And so they had been with her, so they had to isolate for a couple of weeks. Their daughter, my niece, tested positive and lived isolated in their apartment from her husband, my nephew, and their two teenage kids. The adult son of a very dear friend of mine, a young man who lives in Connecticut, tested positive. My son-in-law has an aunt and an uncle. These are siblings who live together, who are in their 80s. Both tested positive recently. Both were hospitalized. They're both over 80. They're doing much better now. And then my wife and I tested positive. What it reminded me of is this dark winter that our medical leaders have been warning of and the danger of the rapid spread, the intensified spread of the virus, even as the vaccine is out there in a race to get there first. Anecdotally, in my case, it's for real. It's for real.

SIMON: People just hearing your voice are going to feel reassured and seeking some guidance. Do you have any for people who might think, well, look; we're 10 months into this, and I haven't gotten it, so I guess I won't?

SIEGEL: Well, I'm 10 months into it, and I hadn't gotten it, and then I did. Yeah, I think that a lot of us face a conflict between the tedium of this regimen and the fact that the risk doesn't diminish just because we're terribly bored with trying to minimize it.

SIMON: We want to underscore - you and Jane feel OK under the circumstances?

SIEGEL: Yeah. Oh, yes. Yeah, yeah. I mean, neither of us is a candidate for hospitalization. For me, I'm now two weeks into this. And my doctor, after I got the positive result - when he spoke to me, he felt that this deep into the infection, it would be unlikely - although viral diseases can be very unpredictable, but it would be unlikely for me to experience any worse symptoms than the cough. But I keep reminding myself that while it was unfortunate to get infected, it's very fortunate that I have such a modest infection. And there are people who are being hospitalized. And there are people who are dying of this disease. And may the vaccine reach us in time to hold those numbers down as best we can.

SIMON: Our friend, Robert Siegel. Robert, we wish you well.

SIEGEL: Scott, it's good to talk with you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.