Two CWRU undergraduates discuss their experience with COVID-19

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Courtesy of Alex Dornback

Third-year student, Jessica Lin, was one of the first members of CWRU’s community infected with the coronavirus.

Nihal Manjila, Staff Reporter

The COVID-19 pandemic reached the U.S. around eight months ago and has since infected hundreds of thousands of people. Two Case Western Reserve University students were among those infected, though they have now recovered. They experienced the disease’s lesser symptoms earlier on in the pandemic—one in the spring and one in the summer. 

Jessie Lin, a third-year student majoring in communication sciences and psychology, spent her 2019-2020 winter break in her hometown of Honolulu. As the spring semester approached, she began her trip back to CWRU—first flying to Seattle and then New York before touching down in Cleveland. Lin flew on the night of Jan. 11, the same day China recorded its first coronavirus death. By this time, people had just begun to hear about a mysterious illness in a Chinese province. Lin reported no one wearing masks on her flights, due to the coronavirus not being perceived as a threat, especially since the disease was only confirmed to be in a country on the other side of the planet. 

Lin began experiencing symptoms on Jan. 22, a day before Wuhan entered lockdown. Her initial symptoms included dryness in the nasal cavity, muscle aches and trouble catching her breath. Despite taking Advil that night, Lin experienced no reprieve from her symptoms. After approximately three days of unrelenting symptoms and social distancing, Lin began to question the cause of her illness, as colds typically subsided by that point. She started to distance from others in case she was infected with something besides a cold. Then, at the nearby shuttle stop on her way back from the Cleveland Hearing & Speech Center, Lin began to struggle to breathe and her heart rate halved in the space of a few minutes, per her Apple Watch recording. This raised Lin’s suspicion that the illness was more serious than a common cold. 

After that experience, Lin went to University Health Services seeking care for a suspected strep throat infection. She experienced a fever of around 101 degrees Fahrenheit for almost a week prior to her visit, as well as trouble drinking water. Lin tested negative for strep throat and tonsillitis, but was told she was “positive for a viral infection.” The doctor gave her masks, medication and directions to wash her hands regularly and avoid contact with others. Around five days later, she began to feel better. Due to the extent of her symptoms, Lin suspected she had experienced a COVID-19 infection. She returned to Hawaii in May and followed the mandatory two-week quarantine. After her quarantine period, she underwent an antibody test which confirmed the presence of COVID-19 antibodies. 

Daniela Dulworth, a third-year student majoring in biology, also experienced a COVID-19 infection this summer. The day before she had a COVID-19 test scheduled, Dulworth had a high fever that indicated she was sick. The test confirmed it: she had become infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Over the course of 10 days, Dulworth experienced symptoms such as congestion, shortness of breath, headaches, a cough and some minor weight loss. Dulworth recommends not getting sick at all versus having to deal with even the non-fatal symptoms of the illness, as some symptoms—such as headaches—can be long-lasting even if the infection is not. 

As of Sept. 13, CWRU has detected a cumulative total of 27 undergraduate and graduate students and three faculty/staff members with positive tests for COVID-19, per the university’s COVID-19 dashboard. CWRU has completed a cumulative total of 3,503 tests since Saturday, Aug. 8, the day that broad student testing began. The university has also recently implemented surveillance testing of the student body to detect and contain any case spikes. The first set of tests occurred this week at Veale Convocation, Recreation and Athletic Center.

Lin emphasizes the importance of wearing masks and social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19 on the CWRU campus.