"Our COVID suspect’s symptoms have been easing and we’re feeling very hopeful that we’ll get a negative test result back any day now."By Ken Rice

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Some of you may have noticed that Ken Rice has been missing from the anchor desk this week. Here is a message he wanted to share:

Hello from the Reserve/COVID-19 list. Ken Rice here. I’m fine, but a few days ago, a member of my family started having possible COVID symptoms and the doctor recommended quarantining while we await the test results.

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Let me just say, KDKA has been terrific. They said, “Ken, we love you, but for now, it’s best if you just stay away.”

They didn’t actually say they loved me, but I sensed it in the way they quickly deactivated my employee key card. That’s affection. And, yes, I’m joking.

We’re keeping our sense of humor because we genuinely feel lucky.

Our COVID suspect’s symptoms have been easing and we’re feeling very hopeful that we’ll get a negative test result back any day now.

When you see me back at the news desk, you’ll know that was the case. And you’ll know that they’ve reactivated my key card.

But I’ll be honest. For a day or two, we got a tiny taste of the fear that I know so many of you have experienced — tens of thousands of you in the Pittsburgh area to this point, and thousands more every few days.

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When this all started back in March, when the world seemed to shut down overnight, I reflected on the many crises I’ve covered — disaster, terror, various other calamities.

I remember clearly how each started, less clear how they ended. But they did end. So back in March, I started to sign off newscasts with the message, “This is not forever.”

And I feel like that didn’t age well. I wouldn’t have said it, had I known that nine months later we’d still be in deep trouble. Deeper now than ever, according to the numbers of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

It has certainly felt like forever – and for too many families there is lasting heartache.

In hindsight, a better message would have been: “I’ve never reported on anything remotely like this before. I don’t pretend to have any idea how this is going to go.”

I still believe this is not forever. But I’m trying to be ready for anything now.

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As soon as I’m allowed out of the house.