Photo by Griffin Mancuso. A COVID-19 test in a vending machine.

Students struggle to navigate COVID-19 safety post-pandemic


by Zachary Mink and Griffin Mancuso

While COVID-19 regulations have become more lenient at Cal Poly Humboldt, many students are still contracting COVID-19 and are unsure of where to find resources.

EG.5 (Eris) is one of the newer variants of COVID-19 in the United States, known for being highly contagious. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predicts that Eris made up about 24.5% of COVID cases in the U.S. over the last two weeks. The second most common variant, FL.1.5.1, made up about 13.7% of cases. 

Currently, the data on the number of student COVID-19 cases and which variant students are contracting most often is unavailable.

Dobby Morse, a graduate student in English who lives on campus, contracted COVID-19 in mid-August. They initially tested negative and assumed they weren’t contagious despite their symptoms.

“After like the third or fourth day, there was this burning lump in my throat and I couldn’t speak,” Morse said. “So, I went to the health center to try and get help and they tested me there. They said I had [COVID-19] and I had to go into lockdown.”

Because they were living with a roommate, Morse stayed in a quarantine room in the Cypress dorms for six days with one bedroom, a bathroom, and a mini kitchen with a broken stove. They tested again five days after their visit to the health center and had a positive result.

“I tried to extend my room for a couple more days, but the housing person said that I wouldn’t be contagious after 10 days,” Morse said. “But there’s internet health websites that say you can be contagious for up to 20 days.”

According to the CDC, those with moderate or severe COVID-19 should isolate for at least ten days, but those with a severe case of COVID-19 may still be contagious and need to isolate for up to 20 days.

Many students believe that precautions still need to be taken in regard to COVID-19.

“I don’t think people are as aware of it or as concerned about it as they should be,” Morse said. “Because I did have one person be like, ‘Oh, you have COVID[-19]? But I’m not scared of COVID[-19],’ and kind of got in my face.”

Emma Kral, a senior at Cal Poly Humboldt, contracted COVID-19 a week after moving into the dorms. COVID-19 left her unable to prepare for her classes, disrupting the beginning of her semester and leaving her feeling tired and unsettled. She was able to get a rapid COVID-19 test from one of the health vending machines on campus, and wants to see students and faculty taking more precautions.

“I think masking should be a lot more common on campus,” Kral said. They also thought more ventilation in classrooms would be helpful.

Many students aren’t aware of the vending machines on campus that carry COVID-19 rapid tests or the resources available in the Health Center. Some students said that they want to see more free masks available around campus. Most frequently, students requested that the school take an active role in addressing the rising number of COVID-19 cases among students and listen to student feedback.

Photo by Griffin Mancuso. The Student Health Center on campus.

According to the Cal Poly Humboldt website, students who are symptomatic can make an appointment at the Student Health Center to see a medical provider. If you are unable to get to the Student Health Center, 2-packs of rapid COVID-19 tests are available in health vending machines for $20 each.

Free 2-packs of rapid COVID-19 tests are currently available to all students at the Student Health Center, but students can only get one pack of tests at a time.

The Student Health Center currently does not provide COVID-19 boosters, but students can sign up for an appointment or find walk-in clinics near them on Locations in Arcata and Eureka that have the updated COVID-19 vaccine are Walgreens, CVS Pharmacy and Rite Aid. Safeway locations currently have a limited supply of the updated COVID-19 vaccine.

The Lumberjack reporters made multiple attempts to contact Jennifer Saford the Executive Director of Student Health & Wellbeing Services, Mira Friedman the Lead for Health Education and Medical Clinic Support Services, Aileen Yoo the Director of News & Information, and Grant Scott-Goforth the Communications Specialist, through email and in-person, but all were unwilling to provide a comment on COVID-19 tests and resources at this time.

Covid Vending Machine Locations:

Nelson Hall East (across from Goodwin form)

Gutswurrak Student Activities Center (1st floor by the Depot)

Jolly Giant Commons (3rd floor next to housing cashier)

College Creek Mail Room Lobby

Creekview Dorm Lounge (must be a Creekview resident to access)

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