This podcast is a digital archive of the WHUS News Team broadcast which airs on 91.7 FM once a week.
This episode aired on October 16, 2020.
For the news, we covered gourmet donuts from a UConn dining chef, how dining services have adapted to the demands of COVID-19, thoughts from Fine Arts students about their virtual education quality, the Division of Student Affairs’s new incident report website called InForm and UConn’s meeting with Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House Coronavirus task force.
Our featured news package this week was produced by WHUS News Correspondent Jonathan Kopeliovich and covers student reactions to the first presidential debate.
WHUS Operations Manager Rita sat down with Program Coordinator Faisal Rajan to discuss when he contracted COVID-19 at UConn and what his experience in quarantine at Mansfield Apartments was like.
This episode was produced by Kate Ariano and hosted by Rita Plante.
This podcast is in collaboration with The Daily Campus and UCTV at the University of Connecticut. Ethan Smith is the creator of our theme music.
The following is a transcript of the interview with Faisal:
RITA: Faisal, do you want to start by just giving some details on how and when you found out you tested positive?
FAISAL: So in my situation, what happened was it was the two-week quarantine period in the beginning of the semester when I just moved in. On the first Saturday, I didn’t feel well at all, I had a strong fever and I was in my room wrapped in blanket shivering, just generally not feeling good. So I decided I’d just stay in my room and isolate myself. Every morning, UConn sent out a survey to take, so the next day I filled in my symptoms and said I had a fever. Later in the day they sent me an email and said they’d call me back to explain what’s going on. Basically, they said I had 20 minutes to pack for a 10-day quarantine in Mansfield Apartments.
RITA: Did they quarantine you before they tested you for the virus?
FAISAL: The first two weeks on campus you were supposed to isolate in your dorm while they were processing the initial tests they took when moving in. I had originally tested negative when I arrived on campus.
RITA: So you tested positive after arriving on campus and being exposed to other students?
FAISAL: Yeah, that is definitely what happened, someone within Garrigus had given me COVID.
RITA: So you were a part of the outbreak within the Garrigus Residential Housing units?
FAISAL: Yeah that is what I assume to have happened. Within my stay in isolation I got the news that Garrigus went into lockdown and I thought that was interesting since I already had it.
RITA: So you had tested positive and were moved to isolation housing in Mansfield Apartments. What were you thinking during this time? Were you scared, frustrated, confused?
FAISAL: I was in a really sad mood because I thought I did a good job being careful and following the safety measures. They tested me again before I moved into Mansfield Apartments and I found out I tested positive within half an hour. It was a sigh of relief, since I no longer had to worry about whether I was negative or positive, I knew I had it. My mindset was just to hope for the best, rest up and ride the wave that is the virus.
RITA: What was the first thing you did in isolation?
FAISAL: Well I had seen some people at a safe and social distance when I got to campus, so the first thing I did was let those people know I tested positive and encouraged them to get tested as well, even though we were all pretty safe about it.
RITA: After you did find out you had it, what kind of symptoms were you experiencing?
FAISAL: The way my symptoms worked was, the first day was by far the worst. I had a bad fever, like I hadn’t felt that sick in years. The second day I felt substantially better, so I thought that maybe I just had something weird the other day like food poisoning. Then over the course of the week, there were waves of fever and chills. I was either really hot, really cold or really sleepy.
RITA: So it was mainly fatigue and flu like symptoms?
FAISAL: Yeah I would say it was very similar to just having the flu. I spent most days just resting up and doing what I needed to do. Luckily I got it before classes had started.
RITA: Do you want to give the run-down of a day in isolation? Like what would you do when you woke up, during the day, etc? How did you communicate with the University, would they bring you meals?
FAISAL: So, they set me up in the apartment, and they gave me all that I needed like amenities and cleaning products, they really did do a decent job at taking care of me. For the food, it was similar to a DoorDash system: breakfast at 9 a.m., lunch at 12 p.m. and dinner at 5 p.m. They would ring the doorbell and leave food on the porch for me to pick up. The food was not bad, they gave me a substantial amount of food, including soup and Powerade everyday. Other than that, I was free to do whatever I wanted in the apartment as long as I didn’t go anywhere. For the doctors, what they did was they would call me around a time that I chose and give me a ten minute video conference check up.
RITA: What kind of questions did they ask you in the check-ins?
FAISAL: They always asked me about my temperature and any symptoms I was experiencing.
RITA: How would you say the University handled your situation? Do you think they did a good job at keeping you safe while also caring for your physical and mental health?
FAISAL: I think they did a decent job for what they were having to do, I guess. They didn’t, like, just cast me off to prison, as long as I stayed in the apartment, I was fine. They gave me a good amount of food and amenities.
RITA: What was the recovery process like? How long did it take for you to feel symptom free?
FAISAL: I’d say around ten days but I was in isolation for 11 days.
RITA: How did they determine that you were all set to leave quarantine? Were you tested again?
FAISAL: So what happened was, my temperature had gone down to normal and I hadn’t needed to report any symptoms or issues in my video conference check up calls, no fever or chills or anything like that. I had to stay in isolation for three additional days with no symptoms before I could leave. They didn’t test me on the way out, because if I tested again at that time, I could’ve still tested positive because there may have been some residual parts of the virus still in my system even though I was no longer contagious.
RITA: So what did the moving out process look like?
FAISAL: The moving out process kind of sucked. They said you can move out, but we can’t help you move out. They helped me move in with a golf cart that I rode to Mansfield Apartments, but they didn’t let me use it to move out. They pretty much said you have to figure it out on your own.
RITA: How much stuff did you have to move out?
FAISAL: Well I packed about ten days worth of clothes and stuff, since I wasn’t able to use the communal laundry machines. They provided toiletries and bed sheets, so other than the clothes I just had my pillow and blanket.
RITA: What has it been like after recovering? Do people treat you differently?
FAISAL: Well I’ll tell people I had coronavirus and they’ll give me the look, but I’ll tell them that was a month ago and that I haven’t had symptoms in a month.
RITA: Have you seen anyone else you know test positive? Did they have similar experiences to yours?
FAISAL: Yeah I know a few other people who tested positive, they’re doing fine now. Some of the people I knew that tested positive went home rather than staying on campus.
RITA: Was that an option that they gave you after testing positive? Could you have gone home if you wanted, rather than staying in Mansfield Apartments?
FAISAL: Well I think they knew that I live on campus and don’t have a car, so I wouldn’t have been able to go home anyway. My friends that lived in apartments with cars had the option of going home.
RITA: Are there any suggestions you would give to someone who is on campus right now trying to avoid catching COVID-19?
FAISAL: Wear a mask, don’t trust anyone, even if they say they tested negative, don’t trust them because you don’t really know them. Keep your distance, follow the guidelines and wear a mask.
RITA: What about someone who has tested positive and is moving into the isolation housing? What would you recommend they do to make the experience a bit easier?
FAISAL: Bring what you need to get your work done, but also stuff to entertain yourself, since you’re just going to be doing nothing. There’s no TV or anything in there. It’s like an empty dorm room with a few provided amenities. So bring a laptop or something to keep yourself entertained.
RITA: Are there any closing statements you want to add?
FAISAL: Wear a mask and follow the guidelines.