To preface, I am so grateful to be back on campus and that Tulane has put in place so many good restrictions to keep students, faculty, and professors safe.
On Labor Day, my suitemates and I decided that we needed to contact trace ourselves, as we had been in the presence of two different people who tested positive for COVID-19. This meant that I would spend my 20th birthday in the Hyatt. While these twelve days in quarantine were hard, we just hoped we would never be contact traced again.
On October 8th, I was sitting in a class when I saw behind me my roommate get the dreaded phone call and confirm her name and date of birth. I texted my friend in the class: “oh no, it’s happening again.” And sure enough, the next day I tested positive for COVID-19. With 10 long days of symptoms, two weeks with no taste, and a month of no smell, I thought my fear of COVID was over. But of course, I was wrong. In early January, I began experiencing the strange sensation that all toiletries smelled off and that fresh ground coffee also smelt bad. Now, back on campus, COVID-19 is a lingering fear that I think about daily.
At Tulane, the protocol is that you have 90 days after contracting COVID before you need to start with testing again. The day I came back from winter break marked my 90th day. Now, all of my anxieties have returned: the fear of the second positive test. No matter how often my friends or other people comment about how much longer the antibodies last than three months, this does not ease my fear. In the past few days, over 300 people at Tulane have tested positive. I do not want to be included in that number again. Every day a different friend texts about someone else they know who tested positive or was contact traced. There is so little information that is known about repeat positive tests, which is what scares me the most.
As I continue to be safe, I encourage everyone to think carefully about the decisions they are making and how they can reduce their impact on the Tulane community and New Orleans at large. I never wanted to test positive for COVID-19 once, in fear of long-term effects which I now experience. I definitely do not want to test positive a second time.
Feature Image Source: https://tulane.edu/covid-19/dashboard