MU student with COVID-19 tweeting from isolation
Brandy Williams’ favorite part of each day this week has been ordering meals for the next day.
“#MealsUpdate Favorite time of the day, ordering meals for tomorrow. Made some more special requests. I'm actually excited about dinner, love tater tots,” she tweeted last Wednesday
From the hotel room where she is in isolation, the University of Missouri senior is tweeting about just about every aspect of her life in isolation – good, bad and irritating – using the hashtag #MUQuarantine.
The university considers students with COVID-19 to be in isolation, while those who were in close contact with sick students to be in quarantine. Williams has COVID-19.
She began her isolation on Sept. 13, the day after she turned 22.
“Happy birthday to me. I have COVID,” she said in a phone conversation.
Her cough was audible at times during the interview. At times, she gets a little tired, she said.
She documented almost every aspect of her first day in isolation on Twitter. A large part of it was spent trying to find a home for her pet gecko. The hotel where she was sent doesn’t allow pets. After considering options, she handed her gecko off to a friend, though she feared infecting the friend in the hand-off.x-im/socialembed
“That was a little disappointing,” Williams said. She was allowed to keep her lizard at MU, but the isolation housing the university established won’t allow it.
She leaves isolation Wednesday. The St. Louis senior is majoring in natural resources science and management.
Overall, MU wasn’t prepared well enough for students to return, Williams said.
She attended the virtual town hall for students and families, which she said indicated to her that the university wasn’t prepared. Officials wouldn’t reveal where isolated and quarantined students would be housed, but officials have said that was to protect student privacy.
“The university knowingly brought us here in the middle of a pandemic,” she said. “They didn’t prepare as they should have.”
University of Missouri spokesman Christian Basi took issue with that claim.
“We have been preparing for months,” Basi said. “Hundreds of staff have been involved in an effort that changes by the day.”
It is good that Williams is communicating specific information and communicating with her Care Team.
“This type of specific reporting is helpful,” Basi said.
Reading Williams’ Twitter feed, he said most of the issues that the student brings up are resolved.
“There is some positive information here that is useful for us to know,” Basi said. “It is very helpful to hear and see this.We continue to believe the staff working on this are very dedicated.”
As of last Friday, MU had 184 active cases of COVID-19 and 1,418 total cases since the semester began Aug. 24. There were 19 active cases among faculty and staff and 50 overall.
Active student COVID-19 cases have declined by 73 percent since Sept. 5, Basi said.
“This is very good news for us,” he said. “We also have ample resources available, including quarantining and isolation space. The staff working on this has been nothing short of phenomenal. We’ll have challenges and hiccups and areas where we could have and should have done better.”
Her time in isolation has given her some relief from yelling at people to put on their masks as a resident assistant, Williams said.
Students would argue with her about the usefulness of face coverings, she said.
“It’s very stressful,” she said. “At least I don’t have to deal with that now. I get a little break from that.”
The university has expelled two students and suspended three students, but Williams said the consequences aren’t serious for many students.
Discussing what she does and doesn’t like about isolation, Williams said her favorite meal has been Caesar salad.
“You can’t really screw up Caesar salad,” she said.
Her least favorite meals have been pasta dishes, because there is little sauce. Her request for extra sauce on the side was denied, she said.
“They said no, you just have to eat what we give you,” Williams said.
No one has forgotten to deliver any meals, she said.
“The Care team is really doing the best they can” though sometimes she thinks they don’t have adequate resources and training, she said.
She had some initial difficulty getting a microwave, but with persistence, was successful.
“Never thought I’d get this excited about a household appliance,” she wrote.
She has made requests for everything from cough drops to spoons.
Being isolated in a hotel room can be boring, she said. She attends classes on Zoom.
“I can’t be outside,” she said. “It’s a little frustrating. I’m taking a lot of credit hours. I’m playing on my game system and watching TV. I haven’t went super crazy.”
She thought her tweets would get attention, she said. She’s glad people are interested.