Road to recovery

QU students share their experiences overcoming COVID-19

Nicole McIsaac and Melina Khan

Quinnipiac University students faced a unique situation this fall semester while juggling the challenges of virtual classes, assignments, student organizations and for some, a COVID-19 diagnosis. 

“It’s scary because it’s something that’s so unpredictable,” said Caroline Castro, a first-year accounting major. “I went from feeling pretty healthy one day to really sick the next. It was the fastest transition that I’ve ever experienced.”

Quinnipiac totaled 525 positive cases since the start of the semester in August, according to its COVID-19 data dashboard. Despite the high increase in confirmed positive results, Quinnipiac recorded that no students had extreme or life-threatening symptoms.

“The majority of students who tested positive for COVID-19 this fall were either asymptomatic or had mild symptoms similar to a cold or flu,” said Dr. David Hill, the university’s senior medical adviser on the COVID-19 task force and professor of medical sciences. “We are pleased that most students did very well with COVID-19, however, this is not always the case, even with young individuals. Because of the range of symptoms, including many who will be asymptomatic, it remains absolutely necessary to wear face coverings and to maintain physical distancing; this will prevent the spread of the virus.”

Michael Clement

Castro said although she originally thought she had food poisoning, she began feeling extremely ill after interacting with someone in her dorm room who unknowingly had COVID-19. During her recovery, she said she had every COVID-19 symptom besides a fever. 

“I woke up in the middle of the night feeling so sick so I knew that this wasn’t food poisoning, and it was something else,” Castro said. “I called the health center Monday morning and every day after that my headache, aches and pains and other symptoms were so bad that I couldn’t get out of bed.”

Despite not having any severe symptoms, she said her real concern started to arise when her cough became progressively worse. Similarly, other students emphasized how their symptoms varied throughout their recovery process. 

“I had a sore throat and congestion which lasted the first four days,” said Abigail Leitao, a first-year business major. “The night before I got tested, I had a fever of 101.8 (degrees). Other than that, I had body aches, lost my taste for two days and was extremely tired.” 

Leitao said her experience having COVID-19 wasn’t nearly as bad as she expected. However, she said this isn’t an excuse for people to be reckless.

“The virus has such a different impact on everyone,” Leitao said. “Even for me and my suitemates who I isolated with, we all had different severities of it and none of us had pre-existing health issues. I would also say to keep your circle of people small because everyone in the group of people I hung out with got it, except for two.”

One major change students said they would want the university to make is an increase in COVID-19 testing. Both students shared that the only other time they were tested was upon arrival at the beginning of the semester. They said the rise in cases could have been prevented if they were tested more often. 

“I feel that we should have been tested more frequently, and I think that I should not have only been tested once,” Leitao said. “Once QU went into code orange, it was clear that cases would only rise, and I personally thought they should have called it earlier. I understand that is a difficult call to make, but if they did, and restrictions were implemented earlier, many other kids could have avoided quarantining and isolating.”

Infected students were granted the option to isolate either on campus or at home. Castro chose to quarantine at home while Leitao was one of the students who chose to stay on campus in Sahlin Hall, one of the isolation dorms, with her four other suitemates.

Similarly to the experiences of other isolated students, Leitao said the only major downside of remaining on campus was the food she received. 

“They charge you $25 per day, so I canceled my meals on day four because most of the time I didn’t eat the food,” Leitao said, “We ordered Peapod twice and QU support was super helpful and delivered it to us, which was great.”

After struggling to heal from COVID-19, Castro said her encounters changed her perspective on the virus and inspired her to urge other students to follow proper guidelines to ensure they won’t end up in the same situation she was in.

“I think for someone who isn’t taking precautions, honestly please do,” Castro said. “I know that it’s hard and awful what we now have to go through but as soon as we take the best of these precautions, hopefully this whole pandemic will come to an end. Please try your best to do whatever you can to protect yourself and those around you because you never know what may happen.”