First known Tulane student tests positive for coronavirus

medical

Sanjali De Silva | Senior Staff Artist

Sanjali De Silva, Senior Staff Reporter

A Tulane junior told The Hullabaloo she tested positive for the novel coronavirus 11 days ago, becoming the first known student with the virus, an inevitable milestone in a spring semester destabilized by the virus’ spread.

Last week, President Mike Fitts announced an administrator had tested positive for the coronavirus and was the first member of the Tulane community known to have the virus. He said more cases in the community were likely, though he would not make campus-wide notifications with each new case.

The junior, who asked to remain anonymous to protect her privacy, has ended her semester abroad and entered at-home isolation. 

“I had to give up so much and didn’t even have time to think about it in the span of like two days,” she said. “I had to say goodbye to my host family, leave my abroad experience, I didn’t even get the chance to say goodbye to most of the friends I had made abroad … it was just thing after thing.” 

The student had been studying abroad in Barcelona, Spain, for the semester and took a trip in early March to Italy with her family. 

“[The trip to Italy] was the first point of possible exposure, but I don’t think I actually got sick there,” she said. 

After returning from her trip with her family, she travelled to Paris for a weekend and then returned to Barcelona for classes. She says she believes it was a Vanderbilt student visiting her abroad program that exposed her to the virus. 

But it wasn’t until she returned home that she was able to get tested.

After her abroad program classes moved permanently online and President Donald Trump issued the European travel ban, the Tulane Office of Study Abroad asked her to come home. The student returned to her home outside of Chicago. 

“I was glad to be out of there once I found out I had tested positive,” she said. 

She had always planned on self-quarantining when she got back from her trip, but when her dad started to feel sick, the student, her dad and her brother were all able to get tested. She described her initial symptoms as a slight headache and a little cough at the time. 

The student was the only member of her family to test positive. After finding out she tested positive, she was required to be in at-home isolation for seven days.

“I couldn’t touch anything in the house, couldn’t cook any food, just to stop my family from getting sick,” she said. 

The student and her family will continue to have groceries and essentials delivered to their home until their time in official quarantine ends Tuesday. She was able to end her seven-day, at-home isolation after she went 72 hours symptom-free.

“I just want to encourage people to try to inform themselves as much as possible. Obviously not inundating themselves with crazy news but just staying informed and getting the information you need to be able to take the best action,” she said. “I feel like this isn’t a time to judge how everyone is responding to it, but I think everyone does have a personal responsibility to inform themselves and then change their behavior based on that.”