Belmont student tests positive for COVID-19, another awaits testing
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Belmont student tests positive for COVID-19, another awaits testing

A Belmont student has tested positive for COVID-19, the Belmont Vision has learned. Another student is experiencing symptoms and looking to get tested.

As the novel coronavirus spreads at an exponential rate, the Belmont community is now being affected directly. One student has confirmed that he tested positive for the virus, but has almost entirely recovered from the illness. He experienced light symptoms and is near the end of his self-isolation period. Another student is currently experiencing symptoms.

Belmont senior Jordan Sawdy said he contracted the coronavirus, and after experiencing mild flu-like symptoms, decided to seek medical help.

Sawdy’s symptoms were mostly limited to discomfort in his head, as he experienced a lingering headache and lightheadedness, as well as a loss of taste and smell. He ran a low fever for a short time, but it has subsided.

“I didn’t really have any of the famous symptoms or anything,” Sawdy said. “I mean, I wasn’t coughing. I didn’t really have any shortness of breath. I actually thought I just had some sort of weird flu or something.”

Sawdy said he visited the Vanderbilt Health walk-in clinic expecting to receive a flu test, but ended up having his nasal swab tested for coronavirus as well.

“There was a 4-hour wait to get in there,” Sawdy said of his visit to the clinic. “But I didn’t even ask for the COVID test. Because like I said, I didn’t really have any reason to think it was that at all. They just ended up doing that.”

Sawdy’s positive test comes in the wake of a national outcry to make tests more readily available, as junior Haley Mills is experiencing first hand.

When Mills began experiencing shortness of breath, fever and dry cough, she decided to contact a local urgent care. They confirmed her symptoms were commonly associated with COVID-19 and advised she seek testing.

Mills explained her symptoms to the Tennessee Department of Health on Tuesday, but was told she would be unable to get tested until running a fever for at least three days, she said.

“I was the perfect candidate to get a test, besides being old,” Mills said. “I had all of the symptoms and I am immunocompromised and I still couldn’t get a test.”

“I didn’t think I would have that big of a problem,” she said. “I know that we don’t have a ton of tests, but I figured if I am showing all the symptoms and have all these issues then I don’t know why I’m not being tested right now.”

After taking precautionary measures of quarantining herself, Mills has recovered from her fever and is feeling better, she said. 

But the experience left a lasting fear surrounding the actual number of COVID-19 cases in the United States.

“Our president is out there saying tests are available and that’s just not true,” Mills said. “There’s just a lot of misinformation. I think that’s really scary. Who knows how many more there are that can’t get access to a test?”

Even though Sawdy was able to get tested, it took him three days to get the results. Once he found out he had carried the virus, he alerted the people with whom he had recently been in close contact.

“They’ve all sort of locked themselves off as well,” Sawdy said of his roommate and both of their girlfriends. “And my roommate and girlfriend have both had some slight symptoms that they think are probably from it as well, just from being around me before we knew.”

Krystal Huesmann of Belmont Health Services said it’s important for all college students to take precautions against spreading the virus.

“For now, we must be unselfish and protect those who need to be protected most from this virus – the elderly and those with underlying health issues,” said Huesmann. “We must allow ourselves to be inconvenienced for a short time to protect lives.”

Huesmann encouraged students to continue to contact Health Services virtually if they have questions.

“We know this is a stressful time, but your Belmont community is still here for you, even if you are not in Nashville,” said Huesmann.

Just as students can be in touch with Belmont Health Services to receive updates on COVID-19, Sawdy has been in contact with the Tennessee Department of Health after visiting Vanderbilt’s clinic.

“I got a call from the Department of Health Wednesday,” Sawdy said. “In the next couple days, I’ll probably be cleared to be back out in the world since I haven’t really had any symptoms.”

Sawdy noted that he has not exhibited a fever since March 17, meaning that he will soon be able to perform critical tasks such as grocery pick-ups.

Though he is glad to be recovering from the virus, Sawdy is disheartened by the impact the pandemic has had on his final semester at Belmont. But while he may face difficulty attending the rescheduled graduation ceremony, he sees Belmont’s handling of the situation as the best interest of the community.

“It’s definitely a bit of a bummer,” Sawdy said. “I think overall, it’s probably the right call. I think it’s a good idea that we’ve taken all these preventative measures.”

“It was definitely a little bit of a bummer realizing the Thursday before spring break, that was just a normal day, ended up being my last day ever going to classes at Belmont.

Article written by Evan Dorian and Kendall Crawford.

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