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Thursday, Apr 18, 2024

Catherine Blizzard '20 in Nashville, Tennessee

<span class="photocreditinline">CATHERINE BLIZZARD</span>

As I drove over the rolling hills on Route 30, my car stuffed with as much as I could carry, I turned around one last time to catch a glimpse of Middlebury. It was cold and cloudy, weather that matched the somberness that hung over our campus, and the realization sunk in that I would never sit in another classroom, ski down the snow bowl, or watch the sunset over the Adirondacks as a Middlebury student. For days I drove across the country heading southwest, washing my hands ferociously in each gas station bathroom, seemingly rushing to beat the spread of the virus.

When I arrived at my boyfriend’s house in Nashville, en route to Dallas, I walked right into a house with four people unknowingly infected with Covid-19. Three days later and I was facing the virus and its peculiar symptoms first-hand. I experienced relentless fevers, chills and coughing, along with a loss of taste and smell. I had been using Clorox wipes as much as possible to wipe down every surface, washed the sheets and tried to limit my contact, but it was to no avail. As I started developing a sore throat and moderate headaches, I ignored the symptoms, as it felt as if I had a mild cold. I thought to myself, that if only I had stayed in Middlebury, I wouldn’t have come into contact with the pandemic. We all went to get tested Friday, March 20. At the testing site, I had to describe my close proximity to those infected, my own symptoms and where I had traveled in the past few weeks. Listing off each state I drove through, which restaurants I stopped at, and with whom else I could have come into contact. They took a nasal swab and told me to isolate and clean the surfaces of the house, to ensure we do not become reinfected. That was six days ago and we still have not received our test results.

I would like to drive home to Dallas, but I am stuck here. I can’t risk infecting others along my drive, especially my parents, who are in their late 50s and early 60s. I must do my part to stop the spread of this disease to the elderly, the immunocompromised and even to others who are otherwise healthy. Although I am devastated that I will miss my senior spring, that is and should not be our primary worry. We should focus on quarantining the healthy and isolating the sick in order to reduce the inevitable breakdown of our already faulty healthcare system. 

What has been your greatest worry or day-to-day concern as coronavirus has spread? 

My greatest worry as Covid-19 spreads throughout the country is the lasting impact that it will have on our healthcare system and economy. As I read news reports on Italy describing the war-like conditions hospitals are facing, I worry that our government, especially President Trump, is doing far from enough to stop the spread. As a senior, I am worried about entering the job market as we inevitably fall into a recession, or worse, a depression. But, along with these worries, the one that I think of the most is about the families who are unable to feed their children, who have lost their jobs and healthcare benefits, and the instability in which much of our country will face in the upcoming months. 

What has made you happy over the past few weeks?

I have seen cars drive by hospitals with signs thanking our doctors and nurses, and I have read articles of ways in which people have rallied funds to support children who are now unable to receive their lunches at school. Although this is a very trying time for the entire country, I am amazed at the generosity of so many, and I hope that after the pandemic recedes, that we will gain a new perspective on the power of helping our communities.

Submitted March 25, 2020.