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Testing Positive for Coronavirus at Penn State: My Isolation Experience

During my first week back at school, I moved into my new apartment, met my professors via Zoom, and tested positive for the Coronavirus.

Despite showing no symptoms, I got tested after someone I had been in contact with told me they tested positive. When I heard of her results, I figured there I was a pretty good chance that I would be positive, too. I made my way to the HUB parking deck, waited in line, spit into a tube, dropped it into a box, and headed back to my apartment to wait for my results.

Almost exactly 24 hours later, I received my results via email: positive. At first, I had no idea what to do — I had no plan. I knew that moving back to State College posed the risk of contracting the Coronavirus, but I hadn’t given much thought as to what I would do if was actually infected.

After collecting my thoughts and calling my parents, I immediately informed anyone I had been in close contact with of my results so they could get tested as soon as possible. I hadn’t seen too many people other than close friends, so it was easy for me to get in touch with everyone. However, I did feel a little bit guilty having to tell people that they might be sick because of me.

Then, I had to make the decision of where I would self-isolate: my off-campus apartment or the on-campus isolation dorms at Eastview Terrace. My roommate ended up testing negative, so she decided to drive herself home and stay there for the remainder of my isolation period. Since she was gone, I decided that it was best for me to isolate in my own apartment, rather than trekking all the way across campus to Eastview.

Over the next few days, a few mild symptoms began to kick in. I had a slight fever, I was super tired, and I could feel that I was developing a cough. Those were just my personal symptoms, though, it’s important to remember that Coronavirus is vastly different for each infected person. To ease my symptoms, I slept a lot, drank plenty of water, and took hot showers to help with congestion.

In all honesty, isolation sucks. It gets very boring and lonely, and if you’re anything like me, motivation and productivity are at an all-time low. It’s difficult to focus when you don’t really have a schedule or any place to be.

I was super wiped out for most of my isolation, so I ended up missing a few classes and assignments. If this happens to you, try not to stress. Email your professors to make them aware of your situation, they’ll be more understanding than you’d think.

The stress of developing symptoms and wondering if I should be concerned certainly took a toll on my mental health. Whatever you do, don’t Google your symptoms. If

you’re worried, call your doctor or University Health Services. In my opinion, it’s best to stay away from the news while you’re isolating, it’ll only stress you out more.

Aside from doing schoolwork, I spent most of my days napping, watching movies, and Face Timing friends and family to pass the time. I also baked brownies and did a little bit of online shopping to take my mind off things. Alas, after 10 longs days I saw the light at the end of the tunnel—my symptoms got better and finally I was able to return to normal life (well, as normal as life can be right now).

I wouldn’t wish the Coronavirus upon even my worst enemies, but if you do end up like me, I have a few tips to make quarantine go a little bit smoother.

1. Make sure you have a game plan before testing positive. Will you quarantine in Eastview or your apartment? How will you coordinate with you roommate(s)?

2. Inform your close contacts of your positive results ASAP. Don’t wait for the University to conduct contact tracing, it takes them a few days to call.

3. If you’re quarantining off-campus, make sure you figure out how you’ll get your meals. Whether it be a friend safely dropping Panera at your door or using Instacart to get groceries through contact-less delivery. Just make sure you’re prepared.

4. Take care of yourself! Your health should be your top priority right now. Get some rest, drink plenty of water, and try not to stress about school, work, or other activities.

Stay safe and mask up Penn Staters, we will get through this together.

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