By Emily Rosenberg
There was no bit of surprise in me as I watched my COVID-19 rapid antigen test turn positive.
Writing and copy editing this in isolation, wiping fever sweats from my forehead and coughing contaminated air onto my laptop, I’m upset that I finally - as what I’ve been telling my friends - “lost my COVID virginity.”
I’m wondering how I could’ve prevented this from happening.
I wore my mask to every class and to most places on and off campus. That should be enough, right?
However, wearing masks doesn’t help too much when you’re one out of 24 students in a compact, unventilated classroom.
Mask-wearing is a team effort, as fighting the coronavirus has always been. Wearing a mask does not provide a lot of protection if the person who has COVID-19 is not wearing one as well.
Framingham State no longer requires PCR testing. Therefore, there is no campus-wide data, but in my experience, I’ve now known five students and three professors since starting the school year who have had to quarantine because of COVID-19 diagnosis.
Last year, when the University mandated masks, I only knew two people who contracted the virus throughout the entire academic year.
Clearly, mask-wearing made a tremendous impact on our campus’s transmission of COVID-19.
Although the University is no longer requiring students, faculty, and staff to wear masks, they are still requiring those who test positive for COVID-19 to go into isolation for at least five days consistent with CDC guidelines.
The isolation requirement proves the University and the CDC still views COVID-19 as a threat to our health.
Even those who experience mild symptoms are required to be isolated while they have COVID-19 because it is highly contagious and some people, especially the elderly and immunocompromised, develop severe symptoms that require hospitalization.
Our vaccines are not advanced enough to prevent everyone from developing severe symptoms. They also do not prevent the virus from spreading.
If people still consider COVID-19 to require isolation, they should still be encouraged to wear a mask during times of high transmission, which is now - the fall and winter.
Although the University does not require mask-wearing, professors should be highly encouraging it or asking students to do so in their syllabus.
Classrooms are where students spend hours in unventilated spaces sitting closely with people they don’t know well.
Students should also strongly consider masking up at events and student activities.
With jobs, internships, student organizations, and nights out, there are hundreds of different people and places you could contract COVID-19 from.
Wearing a mask is the easiest way to ensure you don’t get it. Even if you’ve gotten it before and aren’t afraid of being sick, you should still be careful and wear one because it takes up to five days to realize you’re contagious. During that time, you could be spreading it to people who have pre-existing conditions or cannot afford to isolate.
Not to mention, you yourself do not want to have to be isolated. Isolation is inconvenient not only because you fall behind from your normal schedule, but also because being sick is painful.
I understand the longing not to wear a mask and get back to normal times. I miss the times when I wore lipstick to my math class and didn’t worry about smudging it all over the inside of my N95.
However, we will never be back to normal times, if we don’t continue to stop the spread.
We need to take the necessary steps to protect our loved ones and stay healthy.
Wearing a mask can be uncomfortable, but COVID-19 is excruciating.