AUSTIN, Texas — As the number of COVID-19 cases continues surging, a familiar Austin voice has a warning. Radio host Bob Cole is recovering from the virus and is back on the KOKE-FM airwaves from home.
For weeks, he complied with rules and guidelines about wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. Then he stopped being as careful and soon got a COVID-19 diagnosis.
"The main question everybody asks is, 'Where did you get it?'" he said.
For months after the pandemic reached Austin in March, Cole, 60, said he took constant precautions, including practicing social distancing and wearing a face mask. He shared photos of himself shopping in an N-95.
"I was the face of face masks," he said. "And I carry Clorox wipes, the containers and all that, wiping everything down. Not that I'm a germaphobe, but I just didn't want to get it."
But twice he said he didn't do as experts recommend.
"I let my guard down a couple of times," he said.
In mid-June, he attended the party of a friend and had intended to wear a face-covering while with other guests. He said the host of the party greeted him upon his arrival and encouraged him to put his mask away.
"I said, 'I'm wearing the mask.' He said, 'No, Bob, not a single person in there is wearing a mask. You aren't going to wear a mask,'" Cole said. "So I put it in my pocket."
Within 48 hours, Cole had COVID-19 symptoms. Cole said he knows of three other people who were at the gathering that have tested positive. It is unclear whether he got it from them, or whether he passed it to them.
"I had all of [the symptoms] at first," he said. "I didn't have this 'COVID toes' thing, but my feet [feel] like I had neuropathy. They still kind of tingle a little bit. Very odd. This is different from the flu."
He was diagnosed the day after Father's Day.
His wife, who was not able to get a test, also got sick and is recovering. Their son, who had been to visit, also tested positive and is getting better.
"Everyone's symptoms are different, even in my own family," Cole noted.
Now, he is using his voice to share his own cautionary tale with Austin: to follow guidelines and to take COVID-19 risks seriously.
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