Provided by Rachel Wall
Even though I am fully vaccinated, I recently tested positive for COVID and have been in quarantine ever since. Fortunately, my symptoms have been mild: congestion, cough, and fatigue. My experience aligns with recently published data from the CDC, which warns that the delta variant is far more contagious than the 2020 COVID. Finding a testing slot online or being seen at an urgent care without an appointment is quickly becoming almost impossible.
Last August, while attending college, my daughter and her roommate began having dry cough, which they assumed was an allergy. However, after testing positive for COVID, my daughter was sent home. Administrators feared that the tight quarters would allow the virus to spread quickly. During that time, I learned that people are most contagious when symptoms first appear or immediately before. By the time my daughter arrived home, she already had the virus for several days and was no longer contagious. So, even though we were in close contact without masks, I did not contract the virus.
This April I received both doses of the Pfizer vaccine and believed I was protected. I went shopping, to the gym, and the salon. Looking back, I recall that with the exception of the salon, not all of the employees in these establishments were wearing masks. I continued to avoid large gatherings, such as parties and family reunions, but those precautions were not enough. I still contracted the virus. Since symptoms usually take a few days to appear after exposure, it is impossible to know exactly where I became infected.
Even though I contracted COVID, I am glad I was vaccinated because the vaccine protected me from hospitalization and severe symptoms. I strongly urge others to get vaccinated as well. However, even after you are vaccinated, you should still be extremely careful. If you do experience even a single symptom, such as congestion, scratchy throat, fever, headache, or sneezing, stay home and get tested. I assumed the sneezing fits I had in the middle of the night just before testing positive were simply a reaction to pet hair or dust from my husband vacuuming that day. What seems like just allergies or the sniffles could very well be the virus, so go ahead and get tested to be sure. Keep in mind that sometimes your test may be negative early on and then turn positive after more of the virus is present. If someone you live with tests positive, you may want to test a few days later, but go ahead and quarantine.
I also recommend that everyone keep plenty of food and other supplies at home in case you or a loved one contracts the virus. Keeping canned soups, frozen meals, crackers, protein bars, and fruits on hand will allow you to prepare easy meals and snacks without having to go out for several days. Nurses recommend taking vitamin C, vitamin D and zinc, which most multivitamins contain, to bolster your immune system. Also, drink plenty of water or electrolyte beverages and take deep breaths to keep from getting pneumonia. I regret that I let my guard down and had to spend the first week of school in quarantine. My usual routine is so tame; it’s hard to believe I could be Typhoid Mary. But I do hope others can learn from my experience.
Get vaccinated. Stay prepared. And be careful out there now — more than ever.
Dr. Rachel G. Wall
Professor of English at Cartersville campus