Contact Traced: A Journey Through Quarantine


Media by Zara Tola

Zara Tola, copy editor, patiently waits for her COVID-19 tests results in the examination room at Total Access Urgent Care. Although she tested negative for COVID-19, Tola must quarantine through Wednesday, March 10.

Day 1

Almost a year into this worldwide pandemic, and I really thought I would get off scot-free. This may give many of you a sense of déjà-vu, but I really thought I would get through this entire pandemic without getting contact-traced, getting a cotton swab shoved up my nose or having to worry about getting COVID-19.

Being from an academically excellent school like MHS, I trusted that students in my classes were smart enough to make responsible choices and follow COVID-19 mitigation strategies effectively. I naively believed I would be okay and wouldn’t have to worry about contracting COVID-19, but that all changed around 3 in the afternoon today when I got a notification on my phone that said I was marked absent on Infinite Campus (IC) for Monday, March 1, through Wednesday, March 10, for “COVID DISTANCE LEARNING.”

Well, I can do the math. An approximately two-week period of online learning being blocked out in my IC schedule meant I was quarantined because I had come into close contact with a known COVID-19 case. 

I immediately called my mom, telling her that I suspected I had come into close contact with a COVID-19 case and was going to be quarantined because my IC schedule implied it. I think she didn’t want to believe this was actually happening because she asked me if I was sure and if it wasn’t just something else, but just as we were talking about it she got a call and hung up.

As I would later find out, my mom found out on that call that I had come within six feet of a positive COVID case, and I’d have to quarantine through Wednesday, March 10. 

I got tested as soon as possible at the Total Access Urgent Care near my house. Walking into the waiting room, I filled out some paperwork, and then I was taken to a room where a nurse practitioner listened to my breathing and a medical technician took my vitals and administered a COVID-19 test.

Total Access Urgent Care has walk-in appointments available for COVID-19 testing. Their rapid COVID-19 tests give patients results within a period of approximately 15 to 20 minutes. A person just has to walk-in, and if there are available spots, he or she will fill out some quick paperwork and be lead to an examination room for testing. (Media by Zara Tola)

The nurse swabbed around the inside of both of my nostrils — not as far in as I was expecting based on some other horror stories that I had previously heard.

Then came the wait, about 20 minutes of staring at the blank walls and medical equipment in the examination room, anxiously awaiting my test result. 

Of course I didn’t charge my phone, and with 4 percent left in my battery,  I wasn’t able to just fool around on my phone during this time or frantically text all of my friends about my situation. Just me, my thoughts and the silence of an empty room. What would happen if I was positive?

I already felt the isolation, and my quarantine had only just begun. 

A knock interrupted the silence and a nurse emerged through the door. All I heard was the word negative and I immediately felt the tension release. I left the building with my safety and security restored.

But now, it’s 12 more days of isolation before my return to normalcy once again. Let’s see how it goes.