features

90-Day Expiration Date: A COVID Recovery Story

Stacey Kaliabakos ‘23

Features Editor

Graphic by Valentina Moran ’23.

When the pandemic first started, I had a bad feeling about my chances of getting COVID. I’m from New York City, and, over the past year, New York has been one of the leading states in COVID-19 cases (thank you, Governor Cuomo!). Additionally, my dad works as a pharmacist in the West Village of Manhattan, so he is always at high risk of exposure to the virus. Last April, my dad and I got sick with what we presumed was COVID-19 (as one of his coworkers was sent to the hospital due to the virus just a week or so before the onset of our symptoms). At the time, testing capabilities in the city were quite limited, so we were never able to get a test, but we assumed that our illness was, in fact, the coronavirus. 

There are many different perspectives on “immunity” in people who have contracted COVID-19. Initially, the window of “safety” after recovery was uncertain — some people thought it was permanent, others believed it was temporary. Now, it is generally believed to be about three months, or 90 days. Of course, having said “immunity” doesn’t exempt anyone from following social distancing recommendations or wearing masks, but it does work as a sort of security blanket for those worried about contracting the virus a second time. 

On January 8 of this year I went with my mom to get tested for COVID a second time. My dad was beginning to feel symptoms and decided to come home early that day just to be on the safe side. We all ended up testing positive with PCR tests that weekend (I actually got my positive test on my birthday, which made it my most memorable birthday, but not in a fun way). Of course, I was worried about a lot of things — my family’s health, my own health, and the timeline of being able to return to school, as getting the virus in mid-January was really cutting it close to the start of the semester. Everything ended up working out, and my family pretty much came out unscathed. I also was able to feel better about coming to school. One of the benefits in addition to immunity was not having to get tested like other students. Of course I was still worried about the virus, both for myself and my roommate, who I would not ever want to put in danger; however, it was easier to know that I should have some sort of immunity for basically the first 90 days of the semester. 

On April 8, my final day of freedom ended. This meant finally taking the walk to the Jo for the first time to get a COVID test. I remember going for my test early on the 9, a beautiful Friday morning. My roommate, Rose, went with me for support, as I didn’t exactly know how the Jo functioned or what I was supposed to be doing. To my amazement, the testing process is immensely streamlined and simple, and even a late-comer like me was able to figure everything out pretty easily. I did, to my dismay, initially not know that I should not be the one to put the label on the test tube, and embarrassed myself a little bit on my first rodeo. Now I blend in with the rest of the student body, getting tested twice a week until the semester ends. Basically, what this all means is that I can now truly live out my favorite pandemic slogan: Stay positive and test negative!

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