University Isolates COVID patients in Oakland A

The notion of quarantining oneself is no longer a foreign idea to most people in 2020; distancing yourself from others has become a part of everyday life. But, for some located on campus, this idea has been taken to new levels upon their arrival at UMD this semester.

According to the Coronavirus (COVID) dashboard on the University of Minnesota Duluth Safe Campus website, there are 309 total isolation units set aside to house students who have been infected by the Coronavirus. As of October 1st, 33 of the isolation and quarantine rooms were actually in use by students.

Dashel Anderson, a senior Physics Major at UMD, had been one of those students.

After scheduling a Covid-19 test with Health Services, Anderson then filled out an isolation form. Later that day, Anderson received a call from University Housing asking them to pack whatever belongings within the half-hour and begin moving into Oakland for isolation. Anderson recalled the inconvenience of pushing the laundry cart filled with their things by themself from Heaney Hall all the way to Oakland Aspen, then back again once he was released 9 days later.

“Overall, I felt my experience living in Oakland A was fine. It started off great because it felt like taking a vacation from the world, but I was glad to get out because it didn’t feel very lifelike. Humans are social animals, so social interactions are part of life, and it’s a part that obviously disappears in isolation” Anderson said. “The only part that felt inconvenient was having to move my stuff to and from Oakland A.”

Students are asked to stay in isolation for 10 days, but it could be more or less if need be. They are not allowed to leave the building at all during their stay and are not allowed to leave the room between 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock PM every day.

Reading, video games, research, and listening to music were Anderson’s weapons of choice in the battle against boredom.

“It’s easy to become bored with a single time spender, and boredom is the biggest problem in isolation if you end up not being sick.” Anderson said.

Although there are no faculty or health care officials physically in the building, there are measures in place to make students comfortable. Help from a health care official is available by phone 24/7.

Anderson also explained that dining services have created an online form that is to be filled out each night by students being housed in the quarantine and isolation buildings. Before 10 PM, students choose their lunch and dinner from a variety of options that are often served in the dining center. Breakfast was continental. Lunch entrees vary from day to day but include vegetarian options, main entrees, or the Mongolian Grill entree choice. Dinner options vary but include options that are regularly prepared in the dining center.

According to numbers provided by Health Services and Lynne Williams of UMDPR, there have been 161 total tests administered, 51, being between September 25th and October 1st, with 9 positive cases on campus by then. There has been an upward trend in positive cases as the semester goes on. Health Services did not respond with an update on these numbers by Thursday, October 8th.

Irie Unity, a class of 2024 BFA Acting student who lives in Oakland B across from the quarantine building, posted on the class of 2024 Admitted students’ Facebook page about the uptick in isolation rooms being used. The post read:

“Hey guys, even though we are out of ‘phase one’ that doesn’t mean we are cleared to go to big parties. I live across from the quarantine building and each night I see more and more lights on. Please just be smart about your interactions and please be considerate of the larger community, it would just suck to be sent home early.”

Unity was compelled to post this after seeing fellow students post pictures and videos on ignoring guidelines for interacting during this very serious pandemic.

“It’s frustrating to see such a lack of care about something that is so serious.” Unity said, “We as students have a responsibility to make choices that will not harm others, and I’m seeing that be disregarded.”

The University has now moved into stage two of the Maroon and Gold Sunrise Plan which allows increased access to other on-campus locations, increased access that Unity fears will cause more lights to turn on in the quarantine building.

As outlined in the Maroon and Gold Sunrise Plan, UMD will continue to evaluate all students’ needs for isolation and quarantine. On-campus students have access to dedicated quarantine buildings, and off-campus students will receive support from local public health officials depending on the county in which you reside.

Any questions or concerns from on-campus students can be directed to Health Services at 218–726–8155 or UMD Housing at umdhouse@d.umn.edu.

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Luke Brynjulfson

Communication and Journalism student at the University of Minnesota Duluth