My experience of COVID-19 and three weeks of quarantine

Nathan Turoff, Student Government Reporter

Three weeks in UNF-administered quarantine has been one of the most unique and challenging experiences in my entire life. That’s saying a lot, considering I had to go through the college admissions process. It all started around three weeks ago.

Screenshot of testing information email, courtesy of Nathan Turoff.

As part of living on-campus, my roommate and I received an email (pictured above) explaining how we had to get tested again. This was nothing new, as all on-campus students were routinely tested, and this was our third time since we had moved in two months prior. We were to be tested at Osprey Landing, Building W, as that’s where the testing is conducted. My roommate had slept in, so I had to wake him up, then we both went over and two painful nose tests later, we headed straight back to our dorm.

Later that Wednesday night, my roommate had a fever, headache, and chills. He was always very receptive to cold, and we frequently disagreed on the thermostat settings, so I didn’t think much of his chills. He was also currently dealing with some personal issues, so I assumed his fever and headache were due to that. Regardless, I decided that, for the next two days, until we got the test results back, we would both take precautions. We both wore masks and we kept our physical distance from each other as much as we could inside our tiny apartment. 

COVID test results always come back in two days and the nurses explained that the University would call us if we tested positive, and not call us if we tested negative. In simpler terms, if the University called us, it means we have COVID-19. Friday morning came and went without any call for me. The same could not be said for my roommate, as that afternoon, he received the news that would upheave our lives.

Screenshot of quarantine housing information email; courtesy of Nathan Turoff.

He came out after he got off the phone, and explained that he had in fact tested positive, and that the lady he spoke with said he would receive an email shortly after their call containing further instructions for quarantining. He also said that I would receive a call later that would explain my further instructions. 

I took this opportunity to contact my parents and inform them of this situation. My father works in the healthcare field, so he was very familiar with the process, and I told him and my mother that I would update them as soon as I can. 

During this time, my roommate began to pack his things, and I received my call. It was explained to me that I would have to be quarantined for two weeks as well. I had tested negative on the same test that my roommate tested positive on, so I was classified as being exposed to the virus — therefore requiring quarantine, per CDC guidelines (see below). 

Further instructions were provided for me in the follow-up email (pictured above). It explained how I had 2 options: quarantine in a secure campus location, or quarantine at home. Because my family does not live in the Jacksonville area, and I didn’t want to risk infecting them, myself, or my friends, I opted for the on-campus quarantine. 

Thankfully, and I know this isn’t the case for everyone, all of my classes are remote instruction, so all I needed were my books and my computer for school-work. I gathered most of my essentials, including most of my school supplies, toiletries, and clothes, and moved into Building W of Osprey Landing that Friday night. 

Picture of quarantine information sheet; courtesy of Nathan Turoff (note: the red stains are gatorade).

On Saturday morning, I was visited by the nurses, who gave me a sheet (pictured above), explaining the more nitty gritty details. They explained how I would be quarantined for 2 weeks, and how they would check on me daily to check my temperature and any symptoms I may have. The nurses also explained how, over the weekends, there will be less nurses available, and that I would be unable to be tested again until the next Monday, when the full working staff returned. 

It was at this point that I got my first meals. Meals were explained in the first email, where I was told to look at the online menu for the Osprey Cafe, and email Dining Services with what I would like. They would deliver it outside my door in a styrofoam container, and knock VERY loudly to let me know it was there. They would do this three times a day: 8a.m. for breakfast, 12p.m. for lunch, and 5p.m. for dinner –each meal would use a swipe off of my meal plan. All meal requests had to be emailed at least an hour and a half before delivery. However, as I soon learned, adjusting to this schedule was easier said than done. 

Styrofoam meal containers; photo by Nathan Turoff.

I would often eat my dinner around 7p.m., rather than 5p.m., and there was no adjusting the delivery times. I also, like any “responsible” college student, tend to sleep in, way past 8 a.m. anyway. If I wanted breakfast, I had to remember to order it the night before, and be forcibly woken up by their loud knocking at 8 a.m. Even if I could manage to sleep through the knocks, by the time I’d wake up on my own time, the hot breakfast items would be very cold, and nobody likes cold scrambled eggs, or cold bacon. In addition, due to the early dinner, I would frequently find myself craving a late-night snack. Between my classes and sleep schedule, I would often miss the deadline to get meal requests in. My solution to this? I’m just grateful for microwaveable Ramen, and Uber Eats.

Personal microwave I brought into quarantine, microwave Ramen cooker, and Ramen packet, Photo by Nathan Turoff.

The weekend was slow as I got used to the loneliness, but come that first Monday, I was very optimistic. I was not showing any symptoms, and I got tested again. The results would not come back until that Wednesday, so it was a long wait. I spent my time attending my remote classes, watching Netflix, and having frequent phone and Zoom calls with my friends and family. I also kept in shape, by freeform weightlifting with a weighted bar I brought with me. I also brought my Nintendo Switch into quarantine, so I also spent a lot of time on Animal Crossing: New Horizons — it was this week that Steve from Minecraft was added to Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, so that took up a lot of my time as well. 

Baby Yoda, crucial to maintaining anyone’s sanity during quarantine. Photo by Nathan Turoff.

Wednesday eventually came, and my family and I were very relieved to find out that I had tested negative.

It is estimated that it takes three to five days after exposure to the virus for it to appear on a test. On Oct. 12, when I had been tested for the second time, it had been five days since my earliest confirmed exposure with the virus, that being the previous Wednesday, Oct. 7, when my roommate was tested as positive, and it had been three days since the last physical contact I had had with my roommate, that being on the previous Friday, Oct. 9. I understood that this didn’t clear me entirely, but it did provide me with some relief. On that same day, Wednesday, Oct. 14, after I learned I tested negative again, I requested to be tested a third time immediately, just to be thorough. I knew there was a slight window that I could have contracted it, and that it might not have shown yet. The nurses assured me that was unnecessary, and that I should wait till the next Monday, Oct. 19, to which I reluctantly agreed. 

The rest of the week proceeded fine, I was still showing no symptoms, so I spent my time doing the previously mentioned things. It was then on Oct. 16, a full week after I first entered quarantine that I learned that my roommate was leaving quarantine the next day. I was initially very confused as to why he was allowed to leave a full week earlier then myself, but some personal research and talking to the nurses helped clear it up. Apparently, when you have already tested positive and showed symptoms, you only need  to be isolated for 10 days, as opposed to 14 when exposed to the virus. Because his positive test and the first day he showed symptoms was two days before we entered quarantine, he only had to be in isolation for eight days, so he was free to leave Saturday the 17th, which he did. 

I was still feeling fine, and I did for the whole weekend. Oct. 19th came and the nurses tested me again. I had to wait three days to receive the results and was scheduled to leave quarantine that Friday, Oct. 23.

Wednesday came, and I was informed that I had tested positive for COVID-19. Just like my roommate, I only had to be isolated for 10 days, so instead of leaving quarantine on Oct. 23, I would only be able to leave on Oct. 30. This essentially extended my initial two-week quarantine period for another week. 

This leads to where I am today. I still feel fine, no symptoms whatsoever, and if all goes well, I get to leave this Friday, Oct. 30. My parents plan on having me move back home once I am clear. I’ve grown out a massive quarantine beard, and it’s not even Nov. yet. When I leave, I am required to fill out a sheet (pictured below) and clean up this room to a substantial degree.

Housing quarantine exit form; photo by Nathan Turoff.

This whole experience has been a fascinating one, and I am grateful for all the support I have gotten from my friends and family. All of UNF should continue to take this seriously, for while I am handling quarantine rather well, I am not a very social individual. For someone who loves physical social interaction with friends and family, I can see quarantine being an absolute nightmare. So wear masks, wash hands, maintain social distance, and stay safe!


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