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Wednesday, June 19, 2024
The Observer

I tested positive for COVID-19 and so will you

In short, the past week has been one of the most miserable, lonely weeks of my life. 

My story begins the moment my plane touched down March 6 in Barcelona. Knowing there were a couple hundred cases of COVID-19 in Spain, I was equipped with Lysol wipes, hand sanitizer and my naive attitude. There was no way I was letting a “bad flu” stand between me and my Spanish getaway. 

As the week progressed, I watched the number of cases grow exponentially and the travel advisory for Spain change from a Level 0 to a Level 3 overnight. I watched as Saint Mary’s made the call to move to remote learning for the foreseeable future. All the while feeling perfectly healthy. I moved up my flight home and decided quarantining for 14 days was the socially responsible thing to do (I mean who wouldn’t want to sit on the couch for two weeks?). But my coronacation quickly came to an end as my health started to decline and I became symptomatic.

“Maybe it’s just a cold,” I thought.

“I’m probably just jet-lagged,” I thought.

“Who doesn’t feel a little sick after a 10-hour international flight,” I thought. 

But in an attempt to err on the side of caution, I reached out to my local hotline and explained my symptoms and history of international travel.

“We’re sorry, but you’re not eligible for a test right now,” they responded. “We’ll call you if that changes.”

I continued this process again until I found a provider willing to test me. I drove over an hour and a half roundtrip for someone to swab my nasopharynx for 10 seconds. 

Six days later, I received positive results.

Between the cough, fever, aches and difficulty breathing, I’ve wanted nothing more than to take the magic elixir that will make it all go away. What started out as an annoying sore throat quickly developed into some of the worst flu-like symptoms that I’ve ever experienced. I wanted nothing more than to hug my mom, but knew I couldn’t due to the risk of potentially spreading the virus to her. 

I am 20 years old; despite some mild asthma I am in relatively great physical health. I’m one of the “healthy” ones who is supposed to get through this no problem. But if feeling like there are a stack of bricks on your chest every time you go to breathe is no problem, I don’t want to imagine what problematic feels like.

So it genuinely baffles me to see my peers continue on with their beach vacations and wine nights. Social distancing does not mean continuing on with your daily routine and social schedule. Social distancing does not mean squishing your 15 closest friends into your two bedroom apartment to play boardgames. Social distancing does not mean taking advantage of the $46 roundtrip flight to Miami. 

Social distancing is a minor inconvenience that will have lasting positive effects.  

At the end of the day, I’m thankful for my health. I’m thankful for the fact that I was able to get tested. I’m thankful for the healthcare professionals working around the clock to combat this pandemic.  I’m thankful for friends and family who have reached out to check on me. 

But I’m also fearful and anxious — not only for my own health, but for the future, as this virus continues to spread. I’m anxious for those who do not take it seriously and dismiss it as just a “bad flu.” I’m fearful for my grandparents. I’m fearful for my friend who is a childhood cancer survivor. 

I tested positive for COVID-19 and so will you. 

So finally, I ask of you: wash your hands and stay home. 

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.