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WLWT-TV's Mike Dardis And Sheree Paolello Off Newscasts 2 Weeks Due To COVID-19

Courtesy WLWT-TV
Sheree Paolello and Mike Dardis announced their engagement Jan. 4, 2019.

WLWT-TV anchor Mike Dardis, who came home from covering the presidential debate in Cleveland last week with a weak voice, has tested positive for the coronavirus.

So husband-wife anchors Mike Dardis and Sheree Paolello will be off the air for two weeks.

"When I returned from Cleveland last Wednesday after covering the presidential debate, my voice was a bit hoarse," Dardis said in a Twitter post Monday night.

The co-anchors say they will be home in Mason "watching (TV) along with the rest of you," Dardis tweeted.

Credit Courtesy Mike Dardis
Dardis and Paolello announced their engagement on social media.

"I am not sure when I actually contracted COVID-19. My voice was slightly impacted last Tuesday night," Dardis told me late Monday. While covering the debate, Dardis said he "did not get anywhere near the President or any of his team members," some of whom have tested positive since then.

After news of the pandemic broke last spring, Channel 5 has "been following strict protocols since March and obviously they have worked. In fact, I even drove to Cleveland in a separate vehicle. I met the videographer there as part of our Covid strategy," he told me.

"I did work Wednesday and Thursday before getting my test results. But again, I am never close to anyone and I always wear a mask at the station. Our company has us practicing very safe protocols," he said.

"As far as symptoms, the first day or two (I had a) very low-grade fever and a slightly achy body. Symptoms were gone by Saturday afternoon," he says. 

When I asked Branden Frantz, WLWT-TV general manger, if any Channel 5 employees could have been exposed to the virus by Dardis, or if the Mount Auburn studio, newsroom and offices will be deep cleaned, he said: "We have taken every precaution recommended by the CDC, the State of Ohio and then some to keep our employees as safe as possible.  There is no higher priority for us."

Dardis, who married Paolello in May 2019, said she encouraged him to get a COVID-19 test because he was scheduled to visit his 87-year-old mother in Florida last weekend.

"I am glad Sheree pushed me to get a test before traveling down to Florida to visit my 87-year-old mother. If I had flown and brought that down there it could have been tragic," he told me.

"My symptoms were mild. I consider myself lucky," said Dardis, a 30-year TV veteranwho was hired as Paolello's Channel 5 co-anchor in 2012. They announced their engagement on Jan. 4 last year.

For Paolello, it's her second brush with the virus. On July 2, she announced that she and her husband had tested positive for COVID-19 antibodies.

"MY FEAR is it (COVID-19) was here LONG before we knew it. I was super sick back in JANUARY and diagnosed with bronchitis. So Dr. Jon Mendelsohn gave me an antibody test. Mike and I BOTH tested positive. Not gonna lie it kicked my butt," she posted on Twitter July 2.

According to the July story, Dardis said he was asymptomatic, "but Paolello had a rough time. She said she couldn't breathe and it got so bad that she took herself to a local urgent care twice."

On Monday, Dardis said on Twitter that "either she still has antibodies ... and I never had them. Or this gives credibility to the argument that antibodies may last only three or four months."

He urged everyone to be cautious about COVID-19.

"Now that things are back open, and we are going to football games, restaurants and all kinds of things," he told me Monday, "I just pray that we continue to protect the elderly and those with underlying conditions. The rest of us are back to work… and active again… I would just say do your best to protect folks who need it most."

John Kiesewetter, who has covered television and media for more than 35 years, has been working for Cincinnati Public Radio and WVXU-FM since 2015.