I was one of the two on-campus Covid-19 cases; here’s what I want you to know

By Anonymous

If you have recently taken a look at the Covid-19 Reporting Dashboard, you may have noticed that there are currently no active cases at Middlebury — this means that I am out. I was the second identified Covid-19 case at Middlebury.  

Ho June(Sean) Rhee

I was hesitant to write this out of fear that it might reveal who I am; some may already know or have guesses based on rumors. After being released from isolation, however, the sight of maskless students and large gatherings urged me to share my experience — to take the risk and speak up. So, even though we are inundated with messages from the administration about campus safety, I hope this article comes across not as a rant but as a message from a concerned peer who wants to offer a different insight into the social, personal aspect of isolation and quarantine.

Besides dealing with the physical symptoms of fatigue, loss of taste and smell and joint pains, the biggest challenge I faced during quarantine was loneliness and anxiety. The irritating creaks of floorboards filled the vacant hallways of Munford while intrusive thoughts occupied my already confused mind.

What if I spread it to people? How do I tell my friends that they may have been exposed? What if they shun me even after I recover? Will I recover? How will people perceive me when I go back? Will they eventually find out? These questions only intensified my self-consciousness and anxiety — so much so that I would sometimes spend an entire day behind closed blinds to avoid being seen by students who pass by.

Even though I tend to enjoy solitude and seclusion, being separated from my friends that I’d been yearning to see and from the campus that I’ve been dreaming to walk on transformed my quarantine into a physically and emotionally taxing experience.

Frankly, even after being discharged, I am still nervous to be on campus. Even though recovering from Covid-19 should be a cause for celebration, I returned to campus with a dirty and shameful secret. I even waited until the sun set on the day I left Munford, using the cover of the night to return to my room.

So, as the campus prepares to move on to Phase Two, I urge everyone to realize that being in our friends’ presence and enjoying the beautiful scenery on our campus is a privilege.”

We may be a little too complacent in the Middlebury bubble, deceiving ourselves with a false sense of security. But remember, bubbles burst. We are dangerously underestimating the spread of the virus, which can and will threaten everyone’s right to enjoy their time at Middlebury.

Isolation — coupled with the physiological struggles — is an excruciating and debilitating process. I do not want anyone else to go through what I just went through. Though it may be wishful thinking, I sincerely hope to be the last case at Middlebury.

As a student, I recognize that snitching or calling people out may not be comfortable. We convince ourselves that those awkward conversations will damage relationships and mark us as killjoys, especially if we confront our own friends. However, by reminding our peers to practice social distancing and follow safety protocols, we are protecting each other from separation and isolation. So, if you cherish your time with friends, your spontaneous walks to the Knoll or whatever gives you joy on campus, remember that overcoming the discomfort to advocate for campus safety and accountability is worth saving this semester — and possibly saving a life.

Editor’s note: The writer has been granted anonymity in order to protect their privacy.