By Malcolm Langner, Contributing Writer
During phase four of COVID-19 testing, three cases of COVID-19 were reported on the UMF campus. The phase four testing round included 100 randomly selected off-campus students, faculty, and staff.
Gracie Vaughan, a sophomore, experienced the panic caused by the virus first-hand when she found out she had tested positive for COVID-19. “I was extremely worried. I work at a place with patrons who may have a very difficult time if they were to catch the virus,” Vaughan said. “My main worry was that I could have infected other people.”
Vaughan was asymptomatic, meaning she didn’t show any of the symptoms of COVID-19, but still tested positive for the virus. Despite this, she was concerned for her health and those who were around her. “I’m very lucky that my symptoms didn’t progress for me, but that doesn’t mean that everyone will have the same luck,” said Vaughan. “It was scary not knowing exactly what it could turn into and that alone was even hard on my mental health.”
The various COVID-19 protocols and safety measures may seem tedious and have left some with sour tastes in their mouths, but Vaughan was adamant that such measures are for the good of the community. “Just because people our age have a less difficult time with the virus doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. I would be in a very different position if everyone on campus was following the protocols set forth by the CDC (Center for Disease Control) and by the University,” said Vaughan.
Vaughan mentioned that she was like most others in that she didn’t believe the disease could ever touch her, but she wants to use her experience as a positive, rather than a negative. “I think if people see someone they know has the virus, it will become more real to them,” said Vaughan.
For the students on campus who haven’t contracted COVID-19, seeing that UMF isn’t immune to the virus was a wake up call. For Mackenzie Dyer, a sophomore, this was especially true. “Seeing these cases really opened my eyes. Even though I follow the guidelines, I never really thought that the virus would, or even could, get to UMF,” Dyer said. “I can’t even imagine being told that I have COVID-19.”
Dyer isn’t just worried about her own health, but of UMF as a whole. “I love it at UMF. I would hate to see the campus close down early–or even worse, get closed down for the entirety of the spring semester–because we couldn’t follow safety protocols,” said Dyer.
Not only do the ramifications of a COVID-19 outbreak cause closures on campus, but they could put the lives of family members at risk. “If we get sent home and there have been several cases of COVID-19 on campus, I worry especially about the possibility of bringing it back to my house,” said Dyer. “Just because it might not give me any problems doesn’t mean my family members will have a similar fate.”
As UMF is receiving its first COVID-19 cases, Maine as a state has been increasing once again in positive cases. On Oct. 31, Maine totalled 101 new cases; the most new cases in a day since May 23, with two cases from Franklin Country “If we all work together now that means this whole situation will be a lot shorter in the long run. Please think of other people before deciding not to follow safety protocols,” Vaughan said.