Setter Stories: Receiving a Positive COVID-19 test


Sandra Chen

Sandra Chen, sophomore, was stuck in quarantine for her 19th birthday. Days later she experienced mild COVID-19 symptoms and tested positive for the virus.

Sandra Chen, Social Media Coordinator

On Sept. 24, I was just a day away from being able to go home. I haven’t seen my family since the semester started, and homesickness was taking over. On that night, we received news that Alumni Hall was going into lockdown due to an outbreak of positive COVID-19 cases. I feared that the whole building would have to quarantine for two weeks.

In the afternoon of the next day, a zoom meeting confirmed my speculation. All residents of Alumni Hall had to quarantine on campus or had the option to do so at home. My 19th birthday was only two days away, and I had never celebrated without my family. However, I decided to quarantine in my dorm.

I could not put my family at risk, even if I believed I was safe from contracting the virus.

Fast forward to Sept. 27, my 19th birthday was truly made special by my family and friends, even if I was stuck in quarantine. I dressed up, took some photos, and made a lot of FaceTime calls. My loved ones made the best of that day, and I was grateful to be alive.

That day was going pretty well for me, but unfortunately, my roommate was not feeling her best. She started to experience some cold-like symptoms and even had a slight fever. We both brushed it off as a cold, thinking we weren’t adjusted to being stuck in a room all day. I tried my best to keep my distance, and she would even wear her mask at times in the room.

Two days after my roommate felt better, I started experiencing some symptoms. However, my temperature did not rise above 99.6 degrees; my body just felt weak.

I started to feel a little congested with a stuffy nose, but I blamed the cold temperature in our room for that. I spent that whole day just sleeping as much as I could, and hydrating my body.

The next day, my temperature returned to normal and I was only feeling congested. I thought it was normal since usually every morning, it is cold waking up. My body did feel better, and I wasn’t worried at all. Then, we received news that all students who were quarantining had to get a PCR test done on Oct 1.

Although I was anxious about getting tested again, I would rather be safe than sorry. I already got tested before, and it wasn’t as bad as people made it out to be. It was uncomfortable but they were very quick about it.

However to avoid false negatives, this test that was given was a bit more invasive and uncomfortable. I was relieved when I got it done, and expected to get my negative results in a few days.

Around 5 p.m. the next day, I felt fine and was even at work remotely for my internship. Then, I unexpectedly received a call from a nurse at Pace’s health center notifying me that my test results came back positive. My immediate thought was that it was definitely a false positive, I just don’t know how or where I would’ve been infected.

Right after, my roommate received the same call that her test results were positive as well. Our immediate reactions were just confusion, and just needing more answers.

Reslife contacted us saying we’d have to move into isolation rooms, which was the last thing we wanted. However, they allowed us to stay in our room if our suitemate agreed to not return until we were out of isolation.

This was definitely not how I imagined my first week of being 19. The hardest part for me was letting my family and friends I have been around with know I tested positive. It was easy telling my friends, and they were understanding that I had no control over anything. They knew I would always wear my masks, sanitized my hands often, and didn’t really leave campus much.

I really fought to dorm this semester in a pandemic, because I knew this is where I’d receive the best education.

I contemplated not telling my parents until I was out of isolation, because I knew they would worry too much. Especially hearing what many people have gone through with this virus, they knew it was risky allowing me to return to campus. Although I did not tell them right away, they knew that I had gotten tested the day before. If they asked me about my results, I could not lie to them. Surprisingly with a lot of reassurance that I was fine and not even experiencing severe symptoms, my parents weren’t as worried as I thought they’d be.

Over the course of my quarantine period, the symptoms I experienced the most were congestion, fatigue, and loss of smell/taste. I considered myself pretty lucky, because I know others have it worse but it just felt like an enhanced cold to me. I was glad that I was already in quarantine, so I could not have spread the virus to others.

My last day of quarantine was on Oct. 11, and I could not wait to get some fresh air. I was deemed not contagious anymore to others, and was able to go back to daily life.

However, fatigue and the loss of taste still stayed with me.

I was back to my internship, taking 18 credits of classes, and fulfilling my positions in organizations even when my body felt exhausted. The virus can stay in your body for awhile, as well as symptoms.

We are still in the middle of a pandemic. Do your part to not only keep yourself safe, but others around you. Wear a mask. Social distance. Wash your hands. This deadly virus still has unknown factors, and the best we can do is have compassion and take action.