Point Loma Nazarene University experienced an increase of 12 COVID-19 cases on campus, according to an email on Oct.13 from Dean of Students, Jake Gilbertson. The next day, Gilbertson said there were at least two more confirmed cases that he was aware of.
“We’re hopeful that we’ve identified most of the spread and been able to isolate it,” said Gilbertson in an interview with The Point.
“But there’s the reality that we’re going to test a lot more students over the next few days and I have no doubt that we will get more positive tests.”
Gilbertson said the current goal is to ensure the virus doesn’t spread more widely across campus or into the community. What that looks like for students living on campus is a whole lot of isolation. Students who came into close contact with anyone who tested positive are forced to remain in their dorm room for at least seven days.
Dean Maas, a first-year business marketing major, is one of 50 students as of Oct. 13 who is isolated due to coming in contact with a friend who tested positive. In an email interview, Maas said the Wellness Center was very supportive in this process and encouraged him to reach out if he needed anything. While Maas said the alone time has been beneficial for his education, it comes with its downsides.
“The lows of isolation are that I am missing out hanging with friends,” Maas said.
According to Gilbertson, those who test positive for COVID-19 are immediately moved to different areas which have been set aside specifically for the sick. Thomas Coyne was one of the 12 who learned he had the coronavirus on Oct. 12.
Coyne described his experience immediately after the Wellness Center confirmed the results: “I went to my room and [the Wellness Center] sent me a ton of emails and I basically had to pack up my whole room in 30-ish minutes and they shipped me over to Wiley.”
After learning he would be staying with two of his friends who also tested positive, Coyne’s spirits lifted a little. Coyne had been in quarantine for a day when he spoke with The Point, and said the only real lows of the isolation experience were the symptoms of weakness, body aches and just not feeling good.
First-year Christian studies major, Isaac Wold, tested positive the same day as Coyne and was allowed to stay with his close friends in Young Hall who also had the virus. Wold was grateful for how helpful the Wellness Center and PLNU have been.
“They give all the food you need, you can still make all your classes, you’re looked after and taken care of. So there’s no worries about that,” Wold said.
Wold was grateful for the opportunity to go through this experience with two other people who he was already close with. The lows of isolation, according to him, were his meal option being at the mercy of whoever delivered it to him and the uncertainty of how long this would last.
Many other students who haven’t been tested or come into contact with positive cases are faced with uncertainty of a different kind. The County of San Diego is working with PLNU to conduct tests on as many students as possible over the next few days, and some students are considering leaving campus before getting trapped in isolation.
Gilbertson recommends students stay on campus even if they haven’t been tested yet.
“We can provide all your meals and as long as you’re in quarantine we have all the resources here to make sure you’re not spreading it more widely,” Gilbertson said.
“If you go home, depending on who’s at your home, you’re putting those people at risk.”
After acknowledging quarantine is generally not a fun time and something no one wants to go through, Gilbertson said this sacrifice ensures the safety of people at home. Wold’s perspective is that all the extra time shouldn’t be taken for granted. Filling the isolation hours with a new daily devotional, morning prayer or books are a few things Wold said he and his friends are doing to not waste the time. Aside from finding ways to fill time, Wold said community is an important aspect for those in isolation.
“We’ve started a little bit of a group chat and try to keep each other connected. We try to form community in any way that we can just to support each other because we’re all going through the same struggles. Whether it’s just sharing funny little thoughts throughout the day or saying ‘Hey, does anyone wanna play Among Us?’” Wold said.
When facing the uncertainty of the next few days, Wold offers some familiar biblical encouragement: “This too shall pass.”
Written by: Noah Harrel