University COVID Isolation Experience

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University COVID Isolation Experience

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This is a photograph of my final meal delivery on the 17th consecutive day of Northeastern University’s COVID isolation. I woke up the morning after election day to a text from one of my friends saying that he tested positive with COVID. Northeastern is very thorough with their COVID protocol, and I knew that I was minutes away from a phone call from the university telling me that I was contact traced. Immediately, I packed my suitcase and made sure to pack a pillow and blanket as I knew they weren't provided. Shortly after, my case manager called me and gave me instructions to move to the quarantine dorm and begin my 14-day lockdown. Most of my friends that were contact traced with me had their parents pick them up to avoid the very unappealing experience. The ability to work in person is crucial for my parents, so I would have felt very guilty if I brought COVID into the house.
My decision to stay was very challenging, as the 14 days were incredibly daunting. Completely my usual schoolwork felt way more difficult because of the unmotivating environment. The food made the experience way more difficult; I couldn't receive any outside meals. On my 7th day, halfway through, I woke up to several university voicemails urging me to call back immediately. My heart was racing while on hold because the intent of the call was obvious to me. Sure enough, they explained that I had tested positive and needed to follow new procedures. The worst part was my duration extension. The protocol is ten days after a positive result landing me at a total of 17 days. Fortunately, my professors were very understanding given the circumstances, and I made up the assignments I missed from the ordeal. As a young and healthy person, the symptoms I faced were very mild and curtailed in only a few days. We were all so surprised that it took me an entire week from exposure to test positive. I was satisfied that I stayed in quarantine and avoided bringing the virus home. The more excited I was to leave, the slower the days went by. I kept my bags from my daily food deliveries to illustrate the time I had been in quarantine. Picking up my last bag from the hall was a fantastic feeling; I knew that I could return to my regular routine the following morning. After leaving, the university's restrictions that used to bother me seemed so insignificant. I realized that following the protocol was commendable because we all want things to go back to normal.

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This item was submitted on December 4, 2020 by Spencer Fiedler using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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