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There’s no shortage of COVID-19 updates, opinions and statistics in the news. I feel that outside of professional medical analysis, some of the most important media related to COVID are opinion pieces. It provides an outlet for people to express their opinions, views and a different perspective about the shifting world we are all living in. 

Early July of 2020, my friends and I were sitting in a nail salon in Portland, Maine. Also in the salon was a middle aged woman getting the same service. She had on a Louis Vuitton face mask, and was wearing it incorrectly. The aesthetician kindly asked the woman to wear her mask correctly so it covered her nose and mouth. The woman complied, yet felt the need to add “Yes, I just can’t breathe with it on.” I had to bite my tongue, from turning to her and saying “I promise if you get COVID you’ll have a much harder time breathing than you will wearing a mask in a nail salon for 45 minutes.” 

Getting my nails done was the first time I had left the house since I got released by the CDC after having COVID-19. To selfishly hear someone say that they were having a hard time breathing due to wearing a designer face mask, after weeks of personally not being able to breathe, really pushed my buttons.

The afternoon of June 8, 2020, I woke up from a nap with a fever of 102.1. I felt exhausted, sweaty, freezing and boiling all at the same time. After the second day of my fever breaking, I began to feel better. Regardless of what felt to be the upward swing of a recovery, my parents thought it was a good idea to isolate me from the rest of the family then to get a COVID test, to be sure.

Harvard Medical Health publicly stated a fever is one of the first prominent symptoms of COVID. Either way, ‘there’s no way I have coronavirus’ I thought to myself. ‘I live in Maine, I feel fine, the numbers are going down, I’m 20 years old…I’m fine,’ were all reassuring thoughts I repeated over and over in my head while awaiting my test results.

The morning I expected to hear my results, I felt absolutely fine. Even though I had not left my room, I woke up, got dressed, did a full face of makeup, straightened my hair and was ready to start the day. 

When the woman called me with the results,  she started the call with, “Hi Bhavana, we just wanted to let you know that you tested positive….” I was silent for a second and in absolute disbelief. “Wait, I have THE coronavirus?” I asked, with a shocked tone, and slack jaw. “Yeah…I’m sorry” she answered sympathetically. The woman then proceeded to tell me a bunch of information that went in one ear, and out the other. 

Over the duration of the next two weeks I was living in complete isolation, I felt nearly all of the symptoms the Center for Disease Control warned me about. Feeling sick came in waves. There were times I felt like I could go do a full Iron man workout, then some days I felt too weak to even look at my phone screen. 

 I ordered food that I could not taste, was able to draw for hours with Sharpies and not smell a thing, and most noticeably could not breathe. The one outing I took in the two week duration of isolation, besides getting COVID tested, was a visit to Maine Medical Center in order to get my chest X-rayed due to a lack of air circulation in my lungs. 

The truth about COVID is we are all living in a world of uncertainty. All people can do is share their experiences in hopes of ensuring everyone is taking safety precautions. Anyone and everyone is at risk of getting this virus. Whether we like it or not, the virus can be contracted anywhere: gas stations, restaurants, nail salons, it is everywhere. 

If something so miniscule as wearing a face mask or covering could prevent people from getting infected with COVID, why not do it? Getting vaccinated is imperative to keeping yourself healthy, as well as everyone around you. I contracted the virus as a 20 year old, healthy, young person. I could not breathe. I was isolated for two weeks. The reality I faced with COVID was that this virus has long lasting effects on my body. 

If medical professionals are advising people to wear masks and get vaccinated, it is imperative we comply in order to end the spread. The Mayo Clinic is one example of many highly regarded sources encouraging face coverings. The reality is, regardless of how healthy you think you are, how fit you are or how young, the virus can infect everybody. Anyone can get sick and it can be brutal. It has long term effects, as well as impacting mental health. If you don’t want to be locked in your room alone, wear a mask and find a vaccine center near to you. It is not ideal, however it could save lives. 

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Bhav is from Portland, Maine studying Journalism and Spanish at the University of Maine. Her favorite thing to do is travel the world. If she's not on-the-go, at the airport, she's reading, writing or wandering a bookstore. Check her out @bhavscaliabruce
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