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My former professor and I were at a conference where someone had COVID-19

Wash your hands for those who are vulnerable to the virus
Posted at 5:13 PM, Mar 11, 2020

LINCOLN, Neb. (KMTV) — For three days last week, I attended a conference with someone who has since tested positive for the coronavirus.

Matt Waite, my former journalism professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, was also at NICAR, an investigative and data journalism conference in New Orleans.

Neither of us feel sick, but I've isolated myself in my apartment. My work as KMTV's investigative producer will be done from home. Waite took advice from the Lancaster County Health Department and keeps his distance in class and doesn't allow visitors in his office.

A growing number of Americans will have to take similar precautions.

The discovery was especially worrisome for Waite. His wife needs to take a drug that suppresses her immune system.

"If you're a healthy person and you're not really worried about this, the hand washing is not for you," Waite said. "It's for your friends and family and people that you don't even know who have compromised immune systems and are really vulnerable to this."

Waite said via Skype Wednesday some students would have trouble if the university closed completely. He gave a quiz to determine the challenges his students would face.

"It's hard to learn if you have to worry about where your next meal is going to come from," Waite said. Some students are food insecure and rely on UNL's dining halls.

"We have out-of-state students who are relying on University Housing to have a place to stay," Waite said.

Other students don't have a place to stay and sleep on friends' couches, for example.

"If those friends leave they're not in a good place," Waite said.

Waite said he's not a candidate for testing for the coronavirus, according to the Lancaster County Health Department. Neither of us know if we were ever in close proximity to the individual who tested positive.

"It's a very unlikely chance I came in contact with this person," Waite said. "That was a relief, but on the other hand, I'm not stupid and I'm taking some precautions here at work."

For more, watch the video above.

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