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March 31, 2020

‘I Was Really Scared’: Alumnus Tests Positive for COVID-19

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On the evening of Monday, March 16, a Cornell alumnus developed what body aches and chills after a ski trip with family. It wasn’t until later that night he realized these symptoms were the early stages of COVID-19.

“When I took my temperature that night, I had a fever,” he said. He and his sister monitored his  temperature, which had hit 103 degrees, anticipating an emergency room visit if it got any higher. However, the fever didn’t.

“I was really scared”, he said.

He called the hospital which he said did not get back to him for two days. “It was ridiculous,” he told The Sun.

Frustrated, he contacted a local urgent care center that had a drive through testing site, and got tested the day after developing symptoms.

The process included a flu test, which came back negative, a check of his lungs and temperature. Then, they gave him a COVID-19 test.

“It was pretty much a waiting game after that,” he said.” It took nine days for my test results to come back.”

In that time, the alumnus self-quarantined at his home and informed his employer.

“Basically the biggest way it changed my daily schedule was I initially, immediately called my boss and let him know that I would be self-quarantining because there hadn’t really been a lot of confirmed cases in Idaho, but I knew I could have been one of the first ones,” he said.

As of March 31, there were 525 cases in Idaho and nine deaths.

His sister returned to Indiana to self-quarantine, shortly after his symptoms began to ease. She, however, could not get tested as her community experienced a shortage of tests.

At home, the alumnus found one of his biggest difficulties to be sustaining himself with a shortage of groceries. Due to halted grocery deliveries, he found himself ordering take out, accumulating small containers of food.

“It took its toll economically but it was necessary because there was no way I was going to go to a grocery store and expose people,” he said.

Although his fever subsided by March 19, he developed a deep cough and his sense of taste and smell disappeared for almost two weeks –– loss of taste and smell is thought to be another symptom of COVID-19.

On March 26, nine days after he was tested, it was confirmed that the alumnus had COVID-19. Shortly after, he was contacted by the local health authorities.

“They told me based on how I was feeling, the time since my last fever, I was no longer contagious, no longer at risk of infecting other people, and that I could kind of return to normal life and that I would very likely have some sort of immunity now,” he said.

Since recovering, he realized the toll the virus has taken on supplies in stores.

“I haven’t seen any food shortages, but definitely no toilet paper anywhere,” he said.

The alumnus also expressed frustrations with how long it took for him to get test results.

“[Gov. Brad Little (R-Idaho)] kept insisting on the news that ‘Oh, we have no backlog of tests in the state lab,’” he said. “But, he failed to mention anything about most of the tests being sent to commercial labs which had a huge backlog that no one knew about.”

There has been a backlog stemming from the overwhelming number of tests submitted to labs. Commercial labs across the country –– some of which just received approval last month from the Food and Drug Administration — have begun to develop tests to mitigate this problem.

The alumnus encouraged people to follow the social distancing guidelines.

“Especially if you’re asymptomatic you can be spreading it everywhere so it’s important to stick to the social distancing guidelines especially if you haven’t gotten tested yet,” he said.

He first-handedly experienced this with one of his family members, an asymptomatic individual, who tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after their family trip.

“This needs to be taken very seriously.”