Contact Traced: A Negative Test Isn’t A Pass


Media by Zara Tola

After being exposed to a COVID-19 case, Zara Tola, copy editor, continues her quarantine through Wednesday, March 10. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an individual exposed to a COVID-19 case must quarantine for a recommended 14 days to mitigate spread of the virus to others.

Before being contact traced, I was excited to enjoy the weather with a long run or hike and have some family time over this past weekend. Now, I’m stuck in my room by myself most of the time. 

I’m in online school again, and while virtual school is nice one day a week, going back to online after getting to see and talk to people in person is not fun. I miss the casual classroom conversations and getting to see people with my own eyes.

Sometimes I hear people outside talking or running by my house and I envy them. What I wouldn’t give to go on a run around the block right now.

But I’m happy to quarantine if it means reducing the likelihood of spreading COVID-19. Although some may think it is pointless to quarantine if you get a negative test, the reality is the current data doesn’t support eliminating quarantines for those with a negative test, as there is still a chance the individual could be positive

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends a 14-day quarantine for those exposed to COVID-19, even with a negative COVID-19 test. The CDC allows for some wiggle room with their advice, stating quarantines may be reduced to 10 days for asymptomatic contacts or after seven days with a negative diagnostic specimen test for an asymptomatic contact.

I respect the guidance of medical professionals and researchers enough to quarantine even with my negative test result. Just because I got a negative test result doesn’t mean I can continue to go on runs around my neighborhood like I used to or sit on the couch right next to my family as if there is no potential that I have COVID-19.

Last Friday, Feb. 26, Zara Tola, copy editor tested negative for COVID-19 after being exposed to a COVID-19 case while attending school in-person. (Media by Zara Tola)

Research is still happening on COVID-19. Within our own district, there is a study examining positive cases and contacts in RSD in order to investigate how the coronavirus is spread and if the current mitigation measures are truly effective.

As a student journalist, I deeply value ethics, and these values stretch beyond my writing and reporting. These are part of who I am, and regarding COVID-19 mitigation, I wish others followed pursuit. 

The guidelines set by the CDC and other medical professionals aren’t up to interpretation. It is a recommendation supported by the current evidence we have on COVID-19, and no one knows anything about the coronavirus beyond the current data.

Everyone must follow the rules, even if it seems unnecessary or overly cautious. It’s just the situation that we’re in, and following current medical advice is imperative in halting the spread of COVID-19.

As vaccines are distributed to more people, it’s easy to think that the pandemic is coming to a close and we don’t have to be cautious in our mitigation strategies anymore, but l encourage everyone to please keep doing your best to stop the spread of COVID-19 despite the hope that this vaccine has brought for our future.