top of page
  • Writer's pictureDanielle Waugh

Does anyone else feel like the longer this pandemic goes on, the further away the end of it seems? Instead of time leading us to see the light at the end of the tunnel, we're just continuing to realize how long and dark this tunnel could be. I know I'm not alone when I say I originally thought this thing would be over in a few months. When the shut downs started in March, I was hopeful that the coronavirus threat would subside in time for my August wedding. But spring shut downs turned into summer social distancing, which now leads us to a fall, and certainly a winter with COVID-19. And if I've learned anything throughout this process, it's that you have to accept that this threat could be around much longer than you thought and hoped. It leaves us with no choice but to adjust and accept this as our "new normal."

I've started to amass quite the mask collection

I'm more of a realist than an optimist and I don't think the approval of a COVID vaccine will hold the key to quickly returning to "normal" life. First - let's acknowledge that there is no guarantee we will even have an effective and safe vaccine any time soon. If approval does happen in the near future, it will still be months before the vaccine is distributed to enough of the population to make a difference. Some experts are saying it could take even longer for the vaccine to "kick in." And with a significant number of Americans saying they are skeptical to take it, or opposed to vaccines in general, it's possible we may never get enough people vaccinated to eradicate this virus.

Can we really live in isolation until then? I think COVID will be with us for a long, long time. While many of us were willing to live the lock down life at the height of this pandemic, I struggle with the idea that I can't see my family, travel, etc. until this virus goes away. I think we have to find a balance and figure out how to safely resume some aspects of our lives, and I hope that rapid testing and improvements in treatment will help us get there faster.

Living in my new normal has been a constant adjustment. For the last few months, Jeremy and I have been quite strict about who we see and what we do -- mostly staying at home, and socializing only with each other. Over time, we've taken some small steps out, like driving to Key West, staying in a hotel for two nights, and eating at restaurants outside. We're still not comfortable with some things that are allowed, like eating indoors and socializing even in small groups (especially if there's no masks involved). But recently I did take a significant step toward resuming life, by traveling on an airplane and seeing my family.

I put a lot of thought into it and I'm glad I decided to travel to Pittsburgh to attend my sister's bridal shower and bachelorette. I knew the gatherings would be small and everyone would be wearing masks unless we were eating or spaced outside. I did some research about the spread of COVID-19 on planes it seems to be about the same risk level as going to a gym right now -- and I decided to wear a face shield over my mask to give myself some added protection. I kept my mask indoors at all times, even though it felt strange to do so when it was just me, my mom, and my sister, and a family friend hanging out at their AirBnb. I also considered the infection rates in Pennsylvania before making the decision to go there, and felt comfortable with them being relatively low. Overall, I think this trip showed that there are ways to live life a little, while being safe about it. I am by no means suggesting that we throw caution to the wind and re-open nightclubs and hold large gatherings without masks indoors -- but I do think we can use what we've learned about virus transmission and make adjustments to reduce risk.

Generally speaking, my new normal looks like this: for work, I have an "isolation office," a room in an empty part of our office complex that keeps me from interacting with anyone, with the exception of my photographer. We wear masks at work and in the field, and we incorporate more virtual interviews over platforms like Zoom to limit our exposure to others. At home, Jeremy and I have been spending a lot of time inside, watching Netflix, using our new Peloton, doing Zoom calls with family and friends to stay in touch. We stick to low risk activities like golfing, snorkeling, and visiting the beach just the two of us. It's been really difficult to essentially end my social life outside of my small bubble, but we've done our best to do our part, especially when cases were spiking out of control in South Florida.

On my recent flight to Pennsylvania, with added layers of protection

We've also made some big and necessary adjustments to our wedding plans for next year. As most people in our lives know, we made the tough decision to postpone our wedding, which was supposed to August 29, 2020. I was so disappointed and stressed but once we made the decision, felt a huge weight lifted -- and now that we've put together some new plans, I'm getting a little excited again. We have eliminated any indoor aspect of the wedding and found a great waterfront location to have a tented reception. This move forced us to find some new vendors and spend more money but providing a safer option for guests is truly priceless. We may end up having a small guest count than we planned for and may still have some degree of masking involved but I'm getting used to these ideas and like everything else in life that's changed -- I'm adjusting. It still makes me sad to think people could be hesitant to hug one another and be close at an event like a wedding but at this point, I'm going to take what we can get, deal with the circumstances we are dealt, and make the most out of our situation while always keeping safety in mind.

86 views0 comments
  • Writer's pictureDanielle Waugh

My first Coronavirus story aired on Jan. 29th: Jupiter Medical Center announces new Coronavirus protocol. Hospitals in our area were just starting to add travel screening questions to see if patients exhibiting flu-like symptoms were potentially infected with COVID19. At the time, the virus seemed like such a distant threat.

My first COVID19 story aired just before the Super Bowl

As the days went by, our coverage of the virus picked up pace: how could China's lock down impact our supply chain of pharmaceutical and wedding dresses? What about people planning trips to Europe? It started to occur to me in February that the virus could have an impact on me, my wedding plans, and honeymoon to Italy this fall. But for the most part, I think I, and most people I knew, where naive about COVID19's threat. It still felt like something that was a world away.

On Monday, March 9, I started to see the shift: someone with the Coronavirus had recently attended a conference at the Palm Beach Convention Center. The virus wasn't "here," necessarily but it had been here. And soon after that, it was like a domino effect of cancellations: music festivals, concerts, conferences started to pull the plug. Then it was sporting events, tournaments, and soon entire seasons. Then came the malls and museums, beaches and businesses. It seemed like no one wanted to be that business or that event that refused to heed the warnings, so one by one, everything ended.

Part of me didn't want to believe the world around me was changing so quickly, and I held onto hope that my bridal party could still travel to Miami March 20th and celebrate my bachelorette weekend. I sent a text to my Maid of Honor (aka my sister) the morning of March 12th and we both agreed: we could still pull this trip off. There were only a few cases in Florida at the time. But just a few hours later, Miami Beach declared a state of emergency. Soon after, large events were cancelled. Beaches started closing. The Governor declared "Spring break is over." It started to become very clear to me that it would be irresponsible to ask my friends to travel, and we cancelled the trip. It's funny how I had been on some level in denial about this virus -- even though I had been covering it, and saw this coming for weeks.

WATCH: City of Delray closes beach, non-essential businesses:

It felt like the nation woke up to the threat on the night of March 11. That's when President Trump gave his Oval Office address about COVID19. That's also the night a Utah Jazz player became a confirmed case -- and Tom Hanks! It felt like the alarm was sounding from all different directions that Americans needed to wake up to this crisis -- that is was no longer a threat from overseas but an immediate issue here at home.

My fiance's family had been in South Florida with us that week because they were planning on flying from Miami to St. Thomas and spend three weeks in the Caribbean for their annual winter vacation. They had to cancel those plans and fly back to Maine instead. The day they flew out was the day I truly started to feel scared and unprepared. I went to Publix to pick up my weekly grocery haul but found a disturbing number of empty shelves. I knew hand sanitizer and toilet paper were in short supply, but why were people hoarding chicken breasts and ground beef?!

That following Monday, March 16, was the first day I can remember my heart racing as I got ready for work. The stress felt like I was getting ready to cover a hurricane again -- except we had no forecast models and no idea how ugly things would get and how we'd handle it. The thing with hurricanes is they pass. We had no idea (and still don't know) how long we'll be in shut-down mode.

That week, the station started to transition to more of a work-from-home operation. Reporters were assigned one photographer to work with indefinitely to reduce the number of people we interacted with each day -- and we were told not to come in to the office whenever possible. Morning meetings moved to conference calls. We relied more on Skype and Facetime for interviews. The station made bottles of hand sanitizer and got poles for us to use in the field as extended mic sticks so we could interview while social distancing. I became acutely aware of how many things I touched and how often I reached for my face. Like a nervous tick, I kept rubbing my hands together with sanitizer.

Making things worse is the sense that there's no end in sight and no escape. Every assignment at work is about the virus. Every new development is a bad one. There's so many press conferences and new executive orders coming down, it's hard to keep track. With everything closed, it feels like there is no where to go and nothing to do to get your mind off of the crisis, even on the weekends. Last Saturday, Jeremy and I woke up at 6 am and split up so we could wait in line at different grocery stores to get what we needed. The Target I went to had a line of at least 50 people waiting for the store to open. The clerks had everyone line up single file and lead us down the aisles, monitoring to make sure we only took 1 item per person for the products in high demand. I was so happy to finally score some toilet paper and Clorox wipes. But it was also disturbing to see how much had changed so fast. Some people were hoarding and panic buying -- others were desperately searching for the things they need to stay safe. Here I was waiting in the dark for a Target to open -- the same morning I thought I'd be waking up on Miami beach toasting mimosas. Instead, I was hunting for toilet paper.

WATCH: Passengers from tri-state area to be screened at PBI

We are in about day 20 of this new, socially distant reality. Coronavirus is the only story right now -- and there are endless angles to cover. Despite all the modifications we've had to make at the office, we are making it work and adapting. It is both upsetting and comforting to see how every single one of us is impacted by this virus. It's been tough, but at least we're all in this together. When I start to get down and worry about my wedding and my loss of normalcy, I try to maintain perspective and remember I still have a job and I am still healthy and so are my friends and family. I know this can't go on forever -- we just don't know how bad it will get before things get better.

131 views0 comments
  • Writer's pictureDanielle Waugh

A few weeks ago, I posted my #DecadeChallenge photo: two photos, side-by-side -- one from 2009, and one from 2019. From age 21 to 31, you might notice a fuller face, the first strands of gray hair, and a very handsome man :) But there is so much that happened in between these photographs that deserves some recognition. Here's my attempt at recapping what was an very eventful 10 years.

2009: I was a broadcast journalism student at Syracuse University. Most of my time was spent competing on SU's Mock Trial team, and that year we advanced to the National Tournament in Des Moines, Iowa. When I wasn't in class, I was practicing for mock trial tournaments, traveling to and competing in tournaments, and then hanging out with my teammates in our free time. That summer I interned at WJAC-TV in Johnstown, Pa., the news station I grew up watching. I was more than half-way through college and eager to be a real reporter.

The SU Mock Trial team

2010: I got a rare sit-down interview with SU basketball coach Jim Boeheim for a student broadcast magazine show called Connect. I continued to spend many hours competing on the Mock Trial team, and that year I became a captain. I joined the ABC News On Campus Bureau at Syracuse, which gave me opportunities to work on broadcast and print pieces for the ABC News network. We took a field trip to Good Morning America to see the show behind the scenes and meet the main anchors. I started volunteering for the Empire Mock Trial Association, a nonprofit founded by a friend that organizes a world championship high school mock trial competition in New York City -- a group I worked with until 2017. Tragically, one of my best friends from childhood, Cathy Roseski, died in a car crash in 2010. I still think about her all the time and as time goes on, it feels more and more unfair that someone so full of life and potential was taken so young.

2011: I rang in the new year by traveling to South Africa for two weeks, putting together multimedia reports for a new Syracuse University project. It was my first international trip and I'll never forget the friends I made in the townships and the incredible wildlife we saw on a safari. I graduated with honors at Syracuse with degrees in Broadcast Journalism and American History. A few months later, I got my first TV news job: reporting for WLBZ in Bangor, Maine. I drove by myself from Pennsylvania to Maine with nothing but a few storage bins full of clothes, found an apartment, and started my new job in the same weekend. This was the year I learned how to live on my own and made lots of sacrifices for my career, trusting it would all pay off down the road.

2012: I moved from Bangor to Lewiston to start a new job: the Lewiston-Auburn Bureau Reporter for WCSH 6. I jumped at the opportunity to report for the Portland market and got very involved in the community, joining a local softball league and playing flute and piccolo in the Auburn Community Concert Band. I covered my first Demsey Challenge and got to do a sit-down interview with Patrick Dempsey. While reporting during a snow storm, a certain viewer named Jeremy noticed Danielle and sent her a message on Twitter... more on him later ;) Living in Lewiston taught me a lot. It was a gritty city with a reputation and I could have easily dismissed it but I jumped in to the community and truly loved my experience there.

2013: I adopted my cat Kitty from the Greater Androscoggin Humane Society (the shelter named her Trinket, I named her Coco, but Kitty is what stuck). I moved to Maine's largest city and in to the Portland newsroom at WCSH and joined the morning show as a reporter. I woke up before 2 a.m., got to work around 3:30 am and never really adjusted to those inhuman hours. I only lasted six months on this shift before I requested a move to the night shift at WCSH. This was the year I moved in with a childhood friend, Josh, into an apartment near downtown Portland.

2014: I finally met the aforementioned viewer, Jeremy, in real life at The Little Tap House in Portland. After a few drinks, a few dates and a few months, we decided to be an official couple. Later that year, my family celebrated my sister's wedding in Massachusetts. I got Jeremy tickets to a Patriots game for his birthday. We binged watched every episode of Breaking Bad. I covered Barack Obama's visit to to Portland. I got to know Jeremy's family and friends better and this is when Maine truly started to feel like home.

2015: I went on vacation with Jeremy's family to the island of St. John, got stung by a sea urchin, and learned how to snorkel. Looking for a new challenge, I left my job at WCSH and joined the team at New England Cable News. I covered the state of Maine for NECN and also reported in Boston. One of my first experiences in the Boston market was covering the verdict of the Aaron Hernandez trial. I watched Jeremy officiate the wedding of his friends Kyle and Sarah on Chebeague Island. My friend Pish visited me in Maine. Jeremy and I saw the Foo Fighters play a show at Fenway. On Halloween, we adopted Camden, a kitten at the Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland. I moved in to Jeremy's condo near the Old Port. This was when we started to make our home together.

2016: I covered a few Presidential campaign stops in New Hampshire and Maine for NECN. Jeremy's family and I traveled back to St. John, and we expanded our trip to include the British Virgin Islands. Jeremy graduated from his Master's program at the University of Southern Maine. I ran my first ever 5K race. My parents spent a week with us in Portland. I went to my first (and probably last) Phish concert, just so I could say I've seen Jeremy's favorite band. Celebrated Jeremy's 40th birthday by buying him a drone. Spent a week in Colorado, staying at my aunt and uncle's condo in downtown Denver. We went to a music festival, visited Rocky Mountain National Park, saw a Rockie's Game, and more. I covered historic election results, and the next morning I broke my toe.

2017: Jeremy's family went to the Cayman Islands for winter vacation, where I learned how to paddle board. Jeremy officiated another friend's wedding. I ran my first 10K in Massachusetts, then ran the Beach 2 Beacon in Maine. Jeremy, Pish, and his friend Pasha and I spent a week in beautiful Montreal. We saw Lady Gaga not once, but twice in concert at Fenway Park! We celebrated Jeremy's brother's 50th birthday in Boston. I made my first big adult purchase and bought a new Ford Focus to replace my old one. I signed an extension to stay at NECN a little longer while I started to explore the possibility of new jobs. At this point, our newsroom launched a third station: the NBC affiliate in Boston. It was exciting to be a part of this new triopoly but I was also getting restless covering Maine news.

2018: We went to Sanibel, Florida for vacation with Jeremy's family in the spring. In the summer my family visited us in Maine and we went on a whale watch tour. Jeremy's family rented a lake house in Belgrade to celebrate his dad's 75th birthday in late August. I spent a lot of time applying for new jobs and wondering why the process was so hard. I learned how to move on from rejection after rejection on the job market. Jeremy and I spent Labor Day weekend in Montauk. We saw Hamilton the musical in Boston. I went on three job interviews in the late fall, and eventually landed a job that felt right: an investigative reporter in Florida! I put in my two weeks notice at NECN. In December, I turned 30 and Jeremy surprised me with a trip to Pittsburgh where we got engaged! We started to plan our big move and started to plan our 2020 wedding.

2019: I moved from Maine to Florida to start my new job at WPEC in West Palm Beach. I jumped in to the world of investigative reporting and ended up winning an Emmy award for an series about moving companies. We attended three weddings, explored Florida, met new friends, and hosted our first major holiday at our new apartment in West Palm Beach.

This decade -- my 20's -- was full. Full of adventures, life lessons, hard work, challenges, rewards, and lots of love. There are so many things I would do differently (mostly not stress as much), but at the same time -- it all led me here, to this new and exciting decade. I am proud to look back on how much I've grown and see that I practiced patience and persistence when things didn't go my way, and when window of opportunity presented itself, I was all in.

As for 2020 and beyond... I know I'll be here in Florida for a little bit longer. I will soon be a married woman, hopefully starting a family and establishing roots somewhere. I hope to keep my passion for journalism and follow my crazy career wherever it takes me. And I hope at the end of the roaring 20's, I can look back as a 40-something and be proud of what I did, what I learned, and who I became in that decade.

221 views0 comments
bottom of page