Yes, the daughter of Omaha billionaire Warren Buffett confirmed Sunday, she has been exposed to the coronavirus and is now on a two-week self-quarantine.
But Susie Buffett wants everyone to take a deep breath.
She said she feels fine and doesn’t think she has contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Buffett said she has not been around her father since her exposure, so there’s no reason to think the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway also has been exposed.
And the local philanthropist is looking forward to her two weeks of isolation. She hopes to do some quilting, catch up on some reading, clean out some drawers and continue the work of her charitable foundation, which is active in the community’s efforts to deal with the fallout from the contagious disease.
“I am not the least bit worried,” Buffett told The World-Herald in an interview Sunday. “I think the more we talk about it, the better it is. I hope it brings down the fear when you start to know people (who have been exposed). It makes it more real, but it also puts a face on it.”
Buffett, 66, serves on the board of Omaha’s Tri-Faith Initiative. She attended a meeting at Temple Israel on Tuesday night with about two dozen other people. For two hours, she sat right next to the Rev. Eric Elnes, the senior minister of Countryside Community Church, which is on the Tri-Faith campus near 132nd and Pacific Streets.
Elnes had just returned from a trip to Spain. And though he felt fine that night, by the next day he had come down with mild symptoms, mostly a dry cough. Because he had been overseas, he was tested, with a positive test confirmed late Friday night.
Elnes called Buffett and told her of the result. The Douglas County Health Department then got involved. Health officials reached out on Saturday to all the people Elnes had been around, including those at the board meeting, telling them to self-quarantine for two weeks.
Twice a day, Buffett now must take her temperature and report the results to the Health Department. As of Sunday night, she said, everything was normal.
Buffett said she had no physical contact with Elnes during the meeting but did sit just a few feet away from him for about two hours.
“This will be a good test to see how it spreads,” she said. “I’ll be the perfect test to see what happens now.”
If Buffett does become ill, she said there’s nowhere in the world she would rather be.
“We are all so fortunate to be in Omaha,” she said. “We have outstanding medical facilities and the best care in the world.”
Buffett also said people should stop worrying about her 89-year-old father.
“My dad is going to outlive us all, and I’m not kidding,” she said. “I’ll bet a lot of money he will get to 100. The guy gets healthier and healthier as he gets older.”
She joked that it’s his consumption of Cherry Coke, listing that soft drink, gravy and chocolate sauce as three of her father’s favorite indulgences.
Mayor Jean Stothert had Susie Buffett’s blessing to mention her coronavirus exposure during a Sunday press conference at which Stothert spoke. Buffett has been working closely with the mayor on the community’s response to the pandemic.
Buffett’s Sherwood Foundation is among the charitable foundations engaged with the Omaha Community Foundation to help the city deal with COVID-19 disruptions. One concern for Buffett is making sure children from families in poverty who get free breakfast and lunch at school still have access to nutritious meals now that schools in the Omaha area have shut down.
“We have plenty to do,” she said. That’s how she will be spending some of her time in quarantine at her home near Memorial Park.
While Buffett was exposed on Tuesday, it appears that the county considers her two-week quarantine to have started on Saturday. They were referring to Sunday as “Day Two” of the quarantine. But she said she has no problem with that.
“I really want to do what I’m supposed to do. I think it’s important,” she said. “I’ll just make another quilt.”
World-Herald staff writer Nancy Gaarder contributed to this report.
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