An Oak Park and River Forest High School graduate said that she’s currently in quarantine at Tulane University in New Orleans, because school officials fear that she has coronavirus, or COVID-19.
Lauren Flowers, a 2018 graduate of OPRF, said on Thursday that she’s been isolated inside of a dorm room since Wednesday morning, when she went to the university’s health clinic after experiencing flu-like symptoms.
Flowers, 20, said she traveled twice to New York and once to Dallas on Southwest and Delta airlines a month before experiencing her symptoms, which included chest congestion, fever, coughing and body aches.
School officials decided to quarantine her because of her previous travels and the fact that she tested negative for the flu, she said.
“Right now, I’m congested, but I feel fine,” Flowers said. “I think the worst of it is over.”
According to Tulane’s website, the university has established a task force under the direction of Robin Forman, the school’s provost. The task force has been meeting since early January to monitor the virus, the website states.
Forman was unavailable for comment when reached on Thursday afternoon. A representative in Forman’s office said that she could not discuss the details of Flowers’ case and would not confirm or deny that Flowers is in quarantine.
Flowers shared an email sent from Tulane President Michael A. Fitts to the university community that outlines the university’s coronavirus preparation. The email does not mention the university’s quarantine dorms.
Flowers said that she’s dissatisfied with how the university has handled the situation. She said after her Wednesday morning appointment, she was held in an exam room at the health clinic for eight hours, until about 5:30 p.m., before university officials moved her to the dorm where she’s staying.
She added that the university did not notify her parents about the quarantine; instead, Flowers said, she called them herself.
“The state has also refused to expedite my testing, because they said I’m not sick enough,” Flower said, adding that she’s had no contact with anyone except a nurse, who checks on her every two hours. She said that for breakfast, officials brought her several Nutri-Grain bars and Nutella.
“I haven’t really had any human connection for two days and it’s uncomfortable,” Flowers said, adding that even if she tests negative for COVID-19, she faces six days in quarantine.
Tulane has cancelled all “non-essential university-related travel” and all university-sponsored events that have at least 50 attendees. All in-person classes will be canceled starting March 13, with online classes beginning March 23, according to the university’s website.
“I found out that they were canceling classes right when I got moved,” Flowers said. “I haven’t been told what they’ll do with me if I have it, and I don’t know what they’ll do if I don’t have it. I got no information about anything.”
Flowers said that the university was initially going to quarantine her roommates, as well, but decided against the measure. Flowers said classes may be cancelled, but that doesn’t prevent students who aren’t quarantined from attending parties and increasing the possibility of the virus spreading. She said that the university should simply send people home immediately.
“I’m sure that there are other people dealing with this at other universities across the country,” Flowers said. “It doesn’t seem like any schools are handling this really well.”