• andreasachs1

Covid-19 Outbreak at SUNY-Oneonta

What Can Happen When a College Reopens Too Early



I have to admit that I never wanted to put myself in harm’s way as a journalist. That was evident from my first days at Columbia J-School, when I decided to write my master’s thesis on celebrity journalism. Later, I used to joke with my friends at Time magazine that I would rather be the Bloomingdale’s correspondent than be posted in a war zone. Don’t get me wrong--I have nothing but admiration for reporters who risk everything to tell the story, but that wasn’t my path. So while I was in awe of CNN’s Anderson Cooper when I interviewed him in 2006 about his new memoir, Dispatches from the Edge: A Memoir of War, Disasters, and Survival, let’s just say that we didn’t swap stories about outrunning the Taliban. Rather, one of my proudest journalistic coups came in 2004, when I managed to report from inside of the National Enquirer’s Lantana, Fla. newsroom. In the belly of the beast!


But unexpectedly, last week I found myself doing an assignment that might have sickened or killed me if I had done it in person. An Insider reader (thank you, Albert Naglieri!) mentioned that his niece, Ava Alicanti, a 19-year-old sophomore at SUNY-Oneonta, a public college in central New York, had returned to school in person on August 20th. Naturally, because of the ongoing national debate about whether colleges should reopen yet, I was interested in talking with Ava. When I reached her last Saturday (8/29) we agreed that I would interview her by phone on September 8th, when enough time had passed for her to form an impression of pandemic student life.


Imagine my surprise, then, when Albert sent me a message on Monday, only two days later, saying “I just found out my niece Ava has Covid.” I was stunned; she had been fine 48 hours earlier. When I texted Ava, she told me that not only did she have Covid-19, but that she was in a strict quarantine with her three roommates. By then, I had learned that there was a huge Covid outbreak on the campus, with more than 500 students infected.

Ava, probably bored as well as sick, was eager to tell me about her situation. We proceeded to do a long, unorthodox, on-the-record text interview over the next five days -- me, sheltering in place for the sixth month in my Manhattan apartment because of an underlying health condition, and Ava, quarantining because of her illness in a group house in Oneonta.

To give you a sense of the urgency of the situation in Oneonta (pronounced oh-nee-on-tuh), we’re publishing, with Ava’s permission, a shortened but unedited selection of texts from our long conversation. It’s hardly the Pentagon Papers (if anything, it’s the Pandemic Papers), but it reveals the thoughts of one card-carrying member of Generation P whose youthful plans have been upended by the Covid crisis. I am grateful to Ava for her time and her upbeat openness, and I look forward to meeting her in person someday—but not now.


Move over, Anderson Cooper!

Happier times: Ava Alicanti, a sophomore at SUNY-Oneonta



The Insider:

Before we start, I want to make sure that it’s okay with you if I publish this interview.

Ava Alicanti:

Yes no problem!

The Insider:

Great! People really want to know what’s going on at college! How did you find out that you have Covid?

Ava Alicanti:

I had been seeing a few friends in small doses since I had moved in on the 20th of August. My roommates and I had some of our friends over certain days to eat dinner with us at our house and check out the new pad; things like that... so when people began talking about a rise of cases in Oneonta, my roommates and I began to feel anxious about potential exposure; however, we did not rush to get tested because we were afraid of being exposed at the testing site. A few days later, we learned that basically everyone that we had been in contact with either tested positive for covid or had symptoms. So we decided as a household that for each other’s sake the responsible thing to do would be to get tested.


We went to our local doctor’s office, wellnow, and waited in the car for 7 hours to receive our rapid test. My fourth roommate did not get tested as she had the virus in June, so we assumed that she still had the antibodies and could not catch it again. One of my roommates tested positive and me and my other roommate tested negative. It was hard to believe, as there was no way to deny that we had been exposed. We were literally living with the coronavirus in our own home. We assumed a false rapid, but took precautions around the house anyways. Quarantining our positive roommate, disinfecting surfaces, etc. So believe it or not I never actually tested positive. A day after testing, I started to feel symptoms such as light sensitivity, a headache, coughing, sinus ache, body aches, and a fever. So I assumed that despite what the test said, it was covid. It seemed impossible for me to not have it.

The Insider:

That sounds right! So you have 3 other roommates, and 1 tested positive, and 1 tested negative and 1 had it before and wasn’t tested?

Ava Alicanti:

Correct!

The Insider:

Are all 4 of you sick now?

Ava Alicanti:

No. My roommate who had it previously is still perfectly fine. Me and the rest, however, all have symptoms. Even the other who tested negative as well.

The Insider:

What was the actual test like?

Ava Alicanti:

It hurt! They put a swab up our noses.

The Insider:

Which day did you get the tests?

Ava Alicanti:

We were tested on August 30th.

The Insider:

Sunday? And you started feeling sick on Monday?

Ava Alicanti:

Yes.

The Insider:

Do you know why it took 7 hours before you had the test?

Ava Alicanti::

Office was absolutely packed. Parking lot flooded with students. Testing was extremely slow. Complaints all around. The nurse herself said that she saw an overwhelming amount of positive results that day, almost all of them being students!

The Insider:

So dangerous to sit in a car with three people who might be sick! I bet you left the windows open on purpose, right?

Ava Alicanti:

We assumed that one of us at least would already have it and that we have already been in contact and living together. We wore masks and kept the windows down

The Insider:

That’s true! I didn’t think of that. How many students would you guess were waiting to be tested? Hundreds?

Ava Alicanti:

Probably almost a hundred. The testing was scattered. People had gone the days before and the days after. That’s what I’ve heard from speaking to other students about it.



Ava's graduation from Half Hollow Hills High School in 2019

The Insider:

Let me catch up on what you’ve been doing since the pandemic began at the beginning of March. Were you at school then? Did school close down?

Ava Alicanti:

The pandemic started to escalate in March while I was still at school. That month, I went home for break, and that is when things got really serious. We were not allowed to return to campus. It was really unfortunate because I had my textbooks and a lot of other things left at school. Professors had to figure out a way to make online class work in the middle of a semester, and we as students had to adjust while being at home; we were not used to being home and in school. The library was a really great resource for me and I spent a lot of time there studying. I no longer had that resource. It was difficult to learn through the computer screen and upsetting not to sit in a classroom with a professor teaching directly and with my peers.


A few weeks later, the school notified us that we could begin returning to campus to get our things and move out. So campus was now shut down but we all needed to return to retrieve our items. We had to sign up for a time slot online to ensure that there were not too many people in the same building at the same time. My father and I went together for me to move out my things at the end of April. Campus was absolutely empty. It was super strange. I was upset to reenter my dorm. It hit me that my second semester as a first-year student was really over halfway through. I was devastated! I loved being away.

The Insider:

Yes, that must have been very difficult! I know that you probably don’t have a major yet, but what kind of classes have you taken at school?

Ava Alicanti:

I do! My major is Early Childhood Education with a concentration in Liberal Arts.

The Insider:

That sounds interesting!

Ava Alicanti:

I have taken one education class even though by now I should have taken two. The classes fill up quick. I have taken Spanish as a language and a few electives. The school requires students to fill some General education requirements, one in each subject. So I have been filling a lot of those credits. I have also taken history, English, and math classes as well.

The Insider:

So when school closed because of the pandemic, you lived with your parents and finished the semester remotely, right?

Ava Alicanti:

Yes.

The Insider:

Just before you left school, were you living in a dorm?

Ava Alicanti:

Yes with one other roommate.

The Insider:

Had any students at the school gotten Covid before it closed down?

Ava Alicanti:

No, there were no cases in Oneonta at the time. The virus was only starting to get bad once we were home.

The Insider:

What did you do during the summer, after your remote classes were over?

Ava Alicanti:

I didn’t do much. It was super boring and frustrating but me and my family remained in quarantine. I spoke to friends and relatives over the phone, facetime, etc. I normally work during the summer as a lifeguard, but this year I decided I wanted to find a restaurant to work at instead. I applied at every single restaurant in my area once things started to reopen in about mid-july, and not one place in my area would hire me. It was scary because I assumed I would be going back to school and that I should really start to save money. At the end of July, I found a hostessing job at a restaurant in Massapequa. I was super grateful that they hired me during such a rough time. I plan on returning to work there when I go home in November for break.




The Insider:

Over the summer, did you know anyone personally who got Covid?

Ava Alicanti:

Yes I did. I knew friends of friends who had it and a family friend.

The Insider:

Bad cases of it? Did anyone die?

Ava Alicanti:

No. My family friend was my age and had a very mild case. Friends of friends were my age as well and had mild cases.

The Insider:

Did your school communicate with you in any way over the summer about what their plans were about reopening?

Ava Alicanti:

Yes. The school updated us multiple times telling us that they were working with New York State to find a solution. They finally told us in early August that we would be returning.

The Insider:

What was your reaction? Were you happy about it, or nervous, or a combination?

Ava Alicanti:

I was super happy to return to Oneonta. I had been home for so long that I felt like I needed a change. At the same time, though, I was nervous. I had been so readjusted at home, which made that change scary for me. I also knew that this semester would be different because of online class and would probably be a bit weird.

The Insider:

Was the plan at school for you to return completely to in-person classes?

Ava Alicanti:

There are no in-person classes. We were told in advance that a majority of classes would be online, aside from classes like art, dancing, and acting. Campus resources, such as Starbucks and the library, were open. Students in dorms are not allowed to go into each other’s dorms.

However, because of the recent upsurge in cases, campus is now shut down. Campus resources are no longer open and students are being required to quarantine in their dorms. Campus is requiring covid testing for all on campus students by cheek swab. Their food is delivered to them from the dining halls at their door in to-go packages. Students who test positive are sent to a dormitory hall that is reserved for COVID positive students.

The Insider:

Are you living an an apartment now, or in a dorm?

Ava Alicanti:

I live in a house downtown. Me and my current roommates were planning on living in a dorm for 4 on campus, until we heard of a bunch of other sophomores deciding to move off-campus. We decided that with all of the regulations and the risk of being in the same hall as other students who could be spreading covid, that we would be happier off-campus.



Ava (bottom right) with her roommates, Kiersten (bottom left), Brittney (top left) and Sabrina (top right)

The Insider:

Tell me more about your return to school. You want back on Saturday, August 20, right? What was it like on campus when you got there?

Ava Alicanti:

Yes. I actually did not go to campus at all. I got all of my textbooks online as supposed to the school bookstore, and all of my classes are online. I really haven’t had a reason to go to campus. I miss it, though.

The Insider:

Describe your life in the week when you got back to school, before you got tested.

Ava Alicanti:

Our first week back was super exciting but super hectic. Moving in was really stressful because we weren’t necessarily prepared for that big of a move in, meaning a house compared to a dorm, since we only knew about a month in advance. It was really exciting though. My friends and I were very excited to live in a house together and to get that experience.


Classes began on the 4th day after moving in. The first day of online class felt weird as being in class would anyways because of being out of school all summer. It felt similar to quarantine. It was like I was back in my room at home “in class” on my laptop. Online isn’t terrible, though. I like being in the comfort of my home while doing all of my schoolwork and being in class. It also eased that anxiety of showing up to class for the first time. I always had butterflies in my stomach walking to the first day of class.


I usually make myself something to eat before class or sit at the table with a cup of coffee and headphones in during lecture. It’s pretty nice, actually. I like having my roommates. It is comforting and we motivate each other. We sit at the kitchen table together with relaxing music playing and do our schoolwork together which is awesome.

The Insider:

Are the classes on Zoom or something similar?

Ava Alicanti:

My classes are on blackboard collaborate. Blackboard is a website that our school uses for basically everything. Each student gets a login and has access to their schedule, their grades, their transcript, their billing and financial aid into, and all links and information needed for classes. So blackboard includes a feature that allows each professor to open a chat room for students to enter for class with audio and video. They are able to screenshare contents and we are able to tune in.

The Insider:

So when was the last day you “attended” class?

Ava Alicanti:

The last day that I was in class was Friday before I got tested on Sunday

The Insider:

I know that all of this is brand new, but what are your plans now? Will you stay in your apartment with your roommates? Will there be any classes at Oneonta?

Your parents must be very worried! What did they say when you told them you had Covid?

Ava--do you want to stop until tomorrow? That would be no problem!

Ava--I’m worried. Are you okay?

Ava Alicanti:

Hi Andrea I’m so sorry!! I fell asleep. I am going to go back to sleep so I will answer soon.

The Insider:

Later!




Ava Alicanti:

Hi Andrea! My apologies I have been sleeping for hours I can continue whenever you are ready

To continue with your questions from last night, online classes will continue at oneonta and I plan on staying in my house with my roommates. I love living here with them and doing online class from the house so I have no intentions of leaving. My parents are very worried.


When I first told them that I was afraid that I had been exposed, I think that they were a bit in denial. They both assured me that I would be okay and to keep being cautious - washing my hands, wearing a mask, keeping my distance, etc. I had been really anxious about the virus prior to returning to school because the whole idea of it and just the severity and how it was affecting everyone and the world really scared me.


My parents knew that I had that mindset, so when I tested negative and told them that I was not feeling too good only a day later, they told me that it was probably all in my head, until my symptoms worsened. They were both really upset to hear and really worried. As much as covid can be compared to the flu, this virus has affected people in all different ways all over the world, so knowing that your child has it hours away is probably really scary as a parent. My father was super alarmed. He wanted me to know that he would do anything that would make me feel better. He himself felt lost - he asked me on the phone “what can I do, Ava?”


My mother reacted the same way. She immediately offered to come and get me and told me that if it got bad, she would come and pick me up and take me home. As much as I wanted my mom in that moment, I knew that the last thing that I wanted was to get anyone in my family sick, especially my parents. I told my parents that I would be fine and that me and my roommates would take care of each other. They have been calling me nonstop, checking on me, telling me what to do to get better. I can tell that they are really worried and eager for me to get better.

The Insider:

I can understand their concern! Did your roommate without Covid go home, or is she quarantining with you?

Ava Alicanti:

We are all quarantining in our bedrooms. She is still in the house with us.

The Insider:

Tell me more about how you are quarantining, How do you know what to do? Are you getting advice?

Ava Alicanti:

We haven’t really gone to the kitchen to prepare ourselves food so we aren’t really worried about infecting downstairs. None of us have much of an appetite so we mostly get a bowl of soup delivered each day. We wear a mask any time we go downstairs or to go to the bathroom and we disinfect anything that we touch. That is really the most that we can do unfortunately. We do not leave our bedrooms unless it is necessary. Our parents all strongly encouraged us to do so.

The Insider:

Do you have enough food for all of you in the apartment?

Ava Alicanti:

Yes. We did a very big food shop when we moved in and bought everything in bulk. We have plenty of food. For fresh food we use instacart, an app similar to a food delivery app but for groceries. A driver is picked to food shop and drop groceries at your door. They leave groceries on our doorstep. It is really convenient

The Insider:

That’s great! I use Fresh Direct. Instacart is very popular in Manhattan right now.

Ava Alicanti:

Yeah it’s awesome!

The Insider:

Do you each have your own bedroom, or are you sharing?

Ava Alicanti:

We each have our own bedroom!

The Insider:

That’s lucky!!!! How have you been spending your time right now?

Ava Alicanti:

I’ve mainly just been resting. I have not had much energy since my symptoms started. I am absolutely exhausted. I have been sleeping for hours on hours. Thankfully I haven’t had much to do since being here so I have basically spent all of my free time getting ahead on my schoolwork, so I actually finished all of my work for this week which took a lot off of my plate. I tried to do some work on the day that my symptoms started and I had to close my laptop because it hurt to even look at the screen, so I decided that I would give myself a little bit of time to just heal. In those moments where I can’t fall asleep I have been binge watching netflix, I just finished season two of my current favorite Netflix series “You”

The Insider:

I’m not sure about your classes now. Is there a break in classes now?

Ava Alicanti:

No, classes are still in session online. In person classes like acting, dancing, and art were switched to online as well as a result of the rise in cases. School did not stop completely campus is just shut down. Meaning that on campus resources such as dining halls or the library are no longer open. Classes are still online though.



Kiersten, Sabrina, and Brittney eating breakfast near campus at the Autumn Cafe last December

The Insider:

Do you know other students now at Oneonta with Covid besides your roommates who have Covid?

Ava Alicanti:

Yes. Basically every single one of my friends here has it. I have more friends who have it than friends you don’t. It’s rare to reach out to a friend and find out that they don’t have it this point. It is everywhere.

The Insider:

Wow!! Are they all quarantining at school like you are, or did some of them go home?

Ava Alicanti:

Everyone that I’ve spoken to who has it is staying at school with their roommates quarantining just like we are. Nobody wants to bring it home to their families. I think that everyone just wants to get past it and then continue to live normally here, but safely, of course.

The Insider:

Do any professors have it?

Ava Alicanti:

I haven’t heard of any professors who have it, thankfully!

The Insider:

I’m curious about the financial part of this. Are any students paying for their Covid tests or treatments?

Ava Alicanti:

No. Tests are required for on-campus students and are not paid for by students. We were not charged for our test at the doctor’s office as off-campus students nor were other students who went.

The Insider:

That’s great! But I guess people are losing money because they can’t go to their jobs.

Ava Alicanti:

That’s right! This has really taken a toll on people financially. However, I think it is good that students are not paying for tests. I don’t think that students who need to get tested would be as willing if they needed to pay. Also, not every student may have the money to get tested, so I think it is only fair that tests are free, considering the fact that they are necessary

The Insider:

Absolutely! Do you and your roommates have enough money to get by now?

Ava Alicanti:

Yes! We all worked over the summer and set ourselves up for our return to school.

I was stressed before leaving though because I only began work in July, so I lost a month of work. I complained to my parents that I did not want to rely on them and that I was worried that I would not go back to school with enough of my own money. I like to be independent and I don’t like to ask my parents for much.

My mom told me, though, that she understood that this is a hard time and that she knew I would have been working if I were able to. She told me that she would support me with whatever I needed and that calmed a lot of my nerves.

The Insider:

Great mom!!!

Ava Alicanti:

Yeah I really appreciated that from her.



A campus snow day last December at SUNY-Oneonta

The Insider:

What are the city and campus of Oneonta like?

Ava Alicanti:

Oneonta’s campus is what I would consider the perfect size. Everything is walking distance which is really nice. We have a starbucks on campus next to a beautiful pond, which is one of my favorite spots. It is really gorgeous in the fall. I loved my time on campus. Snow days were always the best. I loved to look out my window and see the entire campus covered in snow!

The Insider:

Sounds beautiful!

Ava Alicanti:

The town is really small. There are a few houses in the area right outside of campus. Pretty small houses that are somewhat close together. There are some apartments in town and there is a strip of restaurants and stores. We have a really good pizza place called Tino’s that is very popular. They are known for their famous cold cheese slice. It’s delicious! We also have The Yellow Deli which all students are crazy about! I love their sandwich. We have some great sushi and sandwich places as well. We also have a few nail salons, tattoo shops, small stores, etc. That basically describes downtown. Outside of town towards the highway there are some bigger stores and franchises like Walmart, Wendy’s, Taco Bell, Applebee’s, Mcdonald’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, a Lemon Tree hair salon, and things like that.

The Insider:

What are the school buildings like?

Ava Alicanti:

The Oneonta residence halls have about 3 floors each, with 50 rooms on each floor.

The dining halls are about 5 minutes walk each from the residence halls, and right next to class buildings, which are also about 3 stories and pretty close together.


The Alicanti sisters: Ava (left), Alexa (center), Victoria (right)

The Insider:

Tell me a little more about your own family. What cities do you parents live in? You have sisters, right?

Ava Alicanti:

I grew up on Long island in Melville, New York. My mother and father are divorced so I live with my mom and my two sisters in Melville still. My dad lives on Long Island as well and I see him very often as he is not far. My older sister, Alexa, is 22 years old and my younger sister, Victoria, is 17.

The Insider:

Is Alexa in college?

Ava Alicanti::

Alexa graduated college, she went to Oneonta as well! We were together there for a year.

The Insider:

Nice! What is she doing now?

Ava Alicanti:

She is at home working!

The Insider:

What kind of job?

Ava Alicanti:

My mom is a real estate agent so right now she is just helping my mom with open houses and stuff.

The Insider:

Is Victoria in high school?

Ava Alicanti:

Yes she is. She is going into her senior year.

The Insider:

What kind of work does your dad do?

Ava Alicanti:

My father owns an electric company. He does some work in the city as well as on Long Island

The Insider:

And how old are you now?

Ava Alicanti:

I am 19 years old.

The Insider:

Are your roommates the same age?

Ava Alicanti:

Yes, we are all the same age.

The Insider:

So nice that you can be together through such a difficult time!

Ava Alicanti:

Yeah it is really nice that we have each other. The four of us are super close. I would not want to go through this without them.



A pensive pre-COVID Ava

The Insider:

How would you describe your mood right now? Are you at peace with being sick or depressed or worried or all of it?

Ava Alicanti:

I am hopeful that everything will return to normal soon. I am sure that everyone is. I am happy to know that other students had it and that it passed for them and to know it will pass soon for me too.

I am definitely upset that covid got me but I know that I will be okay really soon. I am thankful to be healthy enough to get through this.

The Insider:

Yes, you sound very strong and healthy! After all, you were able to answer questions until the middle of the night! Do you have a temperature right now? What is the highest temperature you’ve had?

Ava Alicanti::

I sure was! My highest temperature was 102 and my current temperature is 99. This is the lowest my temperature has been since Monday.

The Insider:

Wonderful! That’s a good sign! Do you plan on going outside for walks, or staying inside 100% of the time?

Ava Alicanti:

Prior to getting sick my roommates and I were going outside for walks around the neighborhood. We will probably get back to that in a few weeks when we heal completely.


The Insider: Hi Ava--I just saw the news!

Will this affect your plans?

Ava Alicanti:

Nope! Everything staying the same for us since we r off campus we don’t have to leave.

The Insider:

Great! Are friends of yours in the dorms leaving?

Ava Alicanti:

Yes :(

The Insider:

Have you been talking to them? What are they saying?

Ava Alicanti:

They are really upset that they are leaving.

The Insider:

So school is completely over for the semester, right?

Ava Alicanti:

Online classes are still happening

The Insider:

And you’re still studying, even though you’re sick, right?

Ava Alicanti:

Yes

The Insider:

Wow! They should give you a Ph.D. for that!

Are you able to concentrate? Do you have homework?

Ava Alicanti:

Yes I have some stuff due next week since they moved some deadlines because of all that’s going on. I am now able to focus

The Insider:

That’s amazing!!! Good for you!

Are you able to see your roommates at all?

Ava Alicanti:

We haven’t really left our rooms but we will eventually when we are all feeling better

Thank you!

The Insider:

Are you feeling better today?

Ava Alicanti:

Yes I feel a lot better. Thank you for asking!

The Insider:

Which symptoms do you still have?

Ava Alicanti:

I just have a cough and I’m congested

The Insider:

Pretty good! Are your parents feeling calmer about the situation now?

Ava Alicanti:

Yes definitely!

The Insider:

That’s good!



The Insider:

Hi Ava--The New York Times has been writing about parties on the Oneonta campus before the outbreak: “ In late August, less than a week after classes started, the State University of New York at Oneonta suspended five students who, officials said, had organized parties in the upstate town that might have led to a coronavirus outbreak on campus.” Do you know anything about this?

Ava Alicanti:

Yes we were told about it in an email from the school

But I don’t really know what happened

The Insider:

You didn’t attend those parties, or know any of those people?

Ava Alicanti:

No me and my friends were not there and I don’t know any of the students who were suspended

The Insider:

Understood! I’m curious--do you think those students were to blame for this, or that the university should not have brought students back at all? In other words, what do you think about the reason for this outbreak, and who, if anyone, is responsible?

Ava Alicanti:

I think that the university definitely should have tested all students that were returning to campus for the fall. People brought it from home for sure and that spread could have been prevented if they had tested positive and been sent home. Many other schools did this. If we had the resources to test students and staff now, why did we not use those resources prior to avoid this becoming an issue?

It was inevitable that people would have it so we should have been testing in the first place.

The Insider:

So there was no mandatory testing for students when they came back to school?

Ava Alicanti:

I think that students, though, should have been responsible as well and kept their distance. I think colleges and parents knew, however, that students were going to do this. Nope. Nothing

The Insider:

That is surprising! Are your friends mad at those students for ruining things for everyone else? Or are they more mad at the school?

Ava Alicanti:

Yes people are upset about the parties but people also think that students should have been tested

The Insider:

So it’s a combination. Have you talked to anyone who went to a party? What did they say about it?

Ava Alicanti:

Yep! I have not really spoken to anyone that was at the parties or heard much about them.

The Insider:

Are you still ordering in food?

Ava Alicanti:

Yes we are. None of us have had the energy to make anything ourselves

The Insider:

What kinds of things are you eating now?

Ava Alicanti:

Just really bland foods like toast, cereal, rice, soup, crackers, etc.

The Insider:

Sometimes people with Covid say they have lost their sense of taste and smell. Has that happened to you?

Ava Alicanti:

It hasn’t happened to me actually! I thought it would and it hasn’t.

The Insider:

How often do you talk with your parents?

Ava Alicanti:

Every day.

The Insider:

What is your dad’s advice? What is your mother’s advice? And what do your sisters say?

Ava Alicanti:

My parents just want me to keep to myself and continue to take care of myself the way that I have been. Eating the right foods, staying hydrated, resting, etc. My sisters as well.

The Insider:

Did the University send you a message yesterday or today? Jim Malatras, the SUNY chancellor, said that it was “the actions of a few individuals who didn’t comply.”

Is there a dorm that is all students with Covid?

Ava Alicanti:

Yes they are all in a separate dorm. I can send the email!

The Insider:

I would love to see that.

Ava Alicanti:

I just forwarded two of them to you!

The Insider:

Got them. Thanks! Are you and your roommates in touch with the university individually? Do they know you are sick? Are they telling you to get retested or anything? In other words, do you feel as though you’re part of the campus tally?

Ava Alicanti:

No, we haven’t been in touch with the university since we are isolated off of campus

The Insider:

So there may actually be more people infected in Oneonta than school officials know?

Ava Alicanti:

Yes

The Insider:

How are your friends other than your roommates reacting emotionally to this? Are people upset?

Ava Alicanti:

Everyone is super upset and just wishes that things would go back to normal. We all miss the way that things used to be. We miss having fun and spending time together.

The Insider:

I can understand that! Nobody wants to go to college with this happening. What amazes me is that you are still required to study while this is going on! I never could concentrate!



Quarantine: September 5, 2020

The Insider:

Hi Ava--Just checking for the last time! Your story will be published tonight! How are you feeling?

Ava Alicanti:

Yay so exciting! I am feeling much better.

The Insider:

What are your remaining symptoms?

Ava Alicanti:

I just have a cough and a stuffy nose

The Insider:

Whew! That’s a relief! Are your roommates doing better too?

Ava Alicanti:

Yeah i’m glad :) we all feel a lot better

The Insider:

Has your appetite returned?

Ava Alicanti:

Yes 😊

The Insider:

Are you all out of your individual rooms now?

Ava Alicanti:

Yes

The Insider:

Are you planning on leaving the apartment?

Ava Alicanti:

No not any time soon.

The Insider:

Do you plan to get retested?

Ava Alicanti:

We probably will after the two-week mark.

The Insider:

What do you think about the fact that out of three of you, two had negative tests? Seems like the tests don’t work that well.

Ava Alicanti:

I definitely don’t think the rapid tests are reliable.

The Insider:

Is everyone who has Covid supposed to stay on campus? Are some people leaving anyway?

Ava Alicanti:

Yes they are supposed to stay there for two weeks and then go home but some people are leaving anyways.

The Insider:

Aren’t they afraid of infecting their families?

Ava Alicanti:

They should be but I’m not sure.

The Insider:

I want to thank you so much for being such a good sport!

Ava Alicanti:

Of course!!!! No problem :)

The Insider:

I’m really glad you’re feeling better.

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