HARLINGEN, Texas (KVEO) — After in-depth conversations with CBS4/LOCAL 23 News management and his family, CBS 4’s morning anchor Derick Garcia decided to speak on his COVID-19 experience.
The Valley native was the first to be given a “work from home” order by senior staff with the Nexstar station during South Padre Island’s Spring Break coverage.
“I completely understood the decision to keep my distance because of how many people I was coming into contact with despite spring breakers, businesses and winter Texans downplaying COVID-19 in mid-March. When bars started to close, the writing was on the wall. I needed to stay home,” said Garcia.
The living room turned into a studio overnight. From March to mid-June, Garcia worked from home, seldomly leaving for a report.
“On June 15, I went to go film a Texas National Guard mobile testing site on South Padre Island. We record video in certain angles to not show faces. Because I knew how important it is to show how the PCR, nasal swab test is given, I volunteered and filmed myself,” said Garcia.
According to documents given to Garcia at the time of the National Guard test, the results would be available in less than a week, however, no call or email was sent to Garcia.
On June 29, Garcia viewed his results.
I had to google something along the lines of ‘Texas COVID-19 test results’ and there was a link to a state website. I entered my date of birth and full name and my results showed I tested positive. Immediately my jaw dropped, and my heart sank. I felt this rush of ‘what have I done’ take over me because all I could think of is my wife, my colleagues.
I’m a pretty private person outside of work and the only people I come into contact with on a daily basis are people who trust me and people I love. My wife, my family, and news team mean everything to me. To think I could have hurt one of them is a horrible feeling.
Dr. James Castillo, Cameron County Health Authority spoke candidly with Garcia about the faults in the system in contact tracing and National Guard Testing.
“That is what’s happening when they’re trying to run thousands and thousands of the samples. And to your experiences, that’s a great example- from the time your sample was taken, to when you got your results, or whether you did get your results, the average time now is that people are waiting about a week to get their sample back,” said Castillo.
The time gap is problematic if people don’t isolate themselves while awaiting results.
“Well in about a week that person is almost passed they’re contagious period and may have already caused all these infections,” said Castillo.
Cameron County has improved the reporting and contact tracing elements to the COVID-19 response.
This is the first in a series of reports chronicling Derick’s experience with COVID-19. For more updates follow him on Facebook.