Christian Bermea and Danielle Martin visited the Tsinghua School of Journalism and Communication in 2015 as part of a delegation from Sam Houston State University taking part in data journalism workshop. When the talented students returned to Texas after visiting Tsinghua and the Great Wall of China, they reported on their experiences with Global Business Journalism faculty and students.
This week, Danielle and Christian were teaming up on a story again. But this time, Danielle was interviewing her fellow Sam Houston State graduate for her television station, WIBW-TV in Wichita, Kansas.
The reason for the interview was a sad reality in this time of global pandemic: Christian, now 25 years old and living in Houston, Texas, has contracted COVID-19, the disease associated with the novel coronavirus that has spread from Wuhan to about 150 countries around the world.
"The thing is I tried to do everything that I could to avoid it and I still got it," Christian told Danielle from self-quarantine in Texas.
When he first got sick, Christian believed he was suffering from seasonal allergies, posting on Facebook about what he thought was an annual springtime struggle with pollen.
"I think I literally posted the day before my allergies are killing me turns out, it wasn't allergies," he said. "It went from coughing to mostly body aches, weakness, and that's when my fever spiked at 101 .... When my symptoms got the worst on day three and that's when I went to the hospital and that's when they tested me."
Christian, a talent acquisition specialist for MAS restaurant group llc in Texas, said he got the bad news from a doctor on March 19: "He said that I had tested positive for COVID-19 and my heart just dropped. When you hear about it that's it's all the way out across the world, you think, oh I can't get it, it's not going to happen to me."
He said he was in disbelief – "It was like this isn't happening," – but he decided to share the news via Facebook to warn friends and family, and to let people know that even someone who had taken all precautions advised by U.S. government officials could still get sick.
"I would just tell people our age that pretend that you already have it. Take it as serious as you can because it's not a joke," he said. "Just sacrifice going out for a weekend, sacrifice not going to have lunch. Two weeks of self-quarantine beats infecting somebody that someone can lose forever."
As Danielle and Christian chatted about her television report, they fondly reminisced about their visit to China five years ago and the Global Business Journalism friends they had made in Beijing.
Christian is adjusting to his condition, which has caused him to lose his senses of smell and taste. He says he has good days and bad days, and hopes for the best. As Danielle concluded her report: "Christian says with prayer, faith, and the support of his family, he believes he will heal."
Read Danielle's full report on wibw.com.