In speaking with students about their experiences of coronavirus isolation during the fall semester, the Daily Trojan followed a common thread: Students say parts of USC Student Health and USC Hospitality appear to be closed overnight and on weekends, even for coronavirus-related matters.
After testing positive for the coronavirus on the first day of classes this semester, Vaughn Hayes, a freshman in applied and computational mathematics, was placed in hotel isolation until he either tests negative on the sixth day or remains in isolation for 10 days. , according to the protocol. However, he was unable to play the sixth Test that day.
“My ‘sixth day’ that I have to get tested is actually going to be either Saturday or Sunday, depending on if you count my first day of symptoms,” Hayes said. “So I asked about the test schedule and they said, ‘Oh, we’re closed on weekends.’ So they’re just not giving people the option to take the test on the weekend and go home, which is really crazy to me.”
If someone’s “sixth day” falls on a Friday, Hayes said, and there is no appointment available that day, they will remain in isolation for three more days.
While he said he appreciates being able to stay at a good hotel, Hayes found the apparent weekend closure surprising.
“It’s just unreal,” he said.
Lindsay Le, a freshman majoring in business administration, tested positive for the coronavirus on Friday, August 26. When she tried to get a hotel room from USC, she also discovered that some of the university’s services were not available on weekends. .
“It took the whole weekend [USC Hospitality] answer, so I had to isolate myself in the dorm,” Le said. “I live in an apartment with three other people, so I just had to stay in the living room and be very careful because I didn’t want to spread it to them.”
This did not sit well with Le, as the fact that she had to wait for a hotel room in her apartment meant that more people could be exposed.
“[It was] like COVID didn’t exist last weekend,” Le said. “I just didn’t feel very professional.”
Ian Wisecarver, a freshman aerospace engineering major, said his roommate went through the same situation as Le. When his roommate tested positive for the coronavirus over the weekend, USC Hospitality didn’t move him into isolation until the school week resumed. Like Le, Wisecarver believes Hospitality simply didn’t respond to a request for isolation over the weekend.
“It was Saturday and Sunday that he spent locked in his room because they couldn’t transfer him to a detention center until Monday. Or … they at least chose not to,” Wisecarver said.
Wisecarver remembers having to bring food to his roommate from the cafeteria because he couldn’t leave the dorm without exposing other students to the virus.
Wisecarver also said he experienced an inability to make appointments on MySHR – the online student health portal – on Saturdays and Sundays.
Carissa Liu, a second-year public relations student, faced a slightly different but similar challenge to what Hayes and Le went through. When Liu tested positive, she first tried calling USC’s student health hotline, but it was out of hours and the only service available was mental health. She then emailed the university about the coronavirus and filled out contact tracing forms, but had to wait to request a hotel room because the form wasn’t open at the time.
“This form is open from 7am to 9pm… It was after 9pm, so I waited until the next morning to do it,” Liu said. “That’s probably one of my biggest challenges [USC’s coronavirus procedures]when you test [positive] at night, you don’t want to stay in your room because you know you’re already positive.”
Chief Student Health Specialist Dr. Sarah Van Orman said Student Health is open on Saturdays and offers telemedicine services on both weekends. She said she had not heard of students having difficulty moving into hotel rooms over the weekend.
“I really don’t know about that,” Van Orman said. “It shouldn’t be like that. As I mentioned, we do not control the detention center … if you test positive and you tell us that you tested positive, we give you information on where to request a room and there should be no delay.”
In a statement to the Daily Trojan, USC Vice President of Auxiliary Services Dan Stimmler wrote about the university’s coronavirus procedures.
“For the past three years, the university has had COVID-19 procedures in place that include isolation and quarantine, working with locations throughout the Los Angeles area,” Stimmler wrote. “The process is managed by an isolation team who work seven days a week, including public holidays, to ensure that the needs of our students are met.”
USC Auxiliary Services is the department of the university responsible for USC hospitality, including housing services. Stimmler did not address the experienced inability of students to obtain isolated weekend housing.