by Rob Taylor Jr., Courier Staff Writer
WPXI-TV (Channel 11) anchor Ryan Houston is a newcomer to Pittsburgh.
Over the past three months, you’ve seen him primarily anchoring the weekend newscasts, and at times, reporting from the field.
But over the past weeks, Houston’s been absent from the airwaves.
And now, we know why.
In a county of 1.2 million residents, covering 745 square miles, with 130 different municipalities, it’s Houston, the man who gives viewers updates on the coronavirus outbreak, coming down with the virus himself.
For Houston, it was simply implausible. WPXI made the decision, March 27, to “be as transparent” with the viewers as possible, revealing on-air that one of their anchors had COVID-19.
From his residence, Houston said in a WPXI interview that a few weeks ago, he felt sick. “I was thinking it was just a sinus cold because that’s what it felt like…a headache, sinus pressure, I didn’t have a fever, I wasn’t coughing then, so I was just thinking it was just a regular sinus cold,” Houston said in the interview that aired March 27.
WPXI’s Lisa Sylvester said that a friend of Houston told him to get tested for coronavirus, as Houston had traveled recently. Houston did get tested on the North Shore, and it took him nine days to get the positive test results back. As he waited for the results, “I couldn’t get out of the bed, my chest started to harden, it was hard to breathe, I couldn’t sleep at night because I was in pain in any way that I laid down in the bed,” Houston said on WPXI.
COVID-19 takes no prisoners. What was found in one man in Washington state a few months ago has brought the U.S. to a stunning halt. As of Tuesday afternoon, March 31, there were 181,099 coronavirus cases in the States, with 3,606 deaths—a numbers that rise by the hour.
In Allegheny County, of which, at the time of Houston’s diagnosis, he was one of 158 county residents with COVID-19, there were 325 confirmed cases with two deaths as of March 31.
Houston will recover from coronavirus. You’ll see him back on WPXI soon. The Arkansas native who came to Pittsburgh from WCPO-TV in Cincinnati is looking forward to returning to the airwaves.
“I feel blessed to be doing as well as I am, especially when I’m on the news and I’m reading how many people have died in China, and how many people are dying in Italy, and now how many people are dying in the U.S.,” Houston said. “You never think it’s going to be you on the other side of that.”
(ABOUT THE TOP PHOTO: RYAN HOUSTON, weekend anchor for WPXI-TV, tested positive for coronavirus, the station said on a March 27 broadcast.)