What happens when your roommate tests positive for COVID-19?

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It was a Tuesday when BYU junior Austin Rustand found out that two of his roommates’ girlfriends tested positive for COVID-19.

“It’s been an interesting couple of weeks,” he said.

It was pretty much inevitable that his roommates would get it too — in fact, one of them did. So, Rustand and his other “healthy” roommate, Sam, peaced out of Provo.

“By Wednesday afternoon, we had decided that we were gonna pack up our bags and head out,” he said. They’ve been quarantining at Sam’s mom’s house in Salt Lake City for the past week and a half while they wait for their positive roommate to recover.

Fortunately, both tested negative.

“I felt like we did the right thing in getting out pretty quick so we could minimize our exposure to the virus as much as we could,” Rustand said.

But quarantine hasn’t been all bad. How have they passed the time?

“We’ve done everything from going on runs to playing tennis to a little two-man basketball downstairs,” he said.

While some have gone home (or to someone else’s home), others have had to stay at their Provo apartment with their sick roommate.

BYU sophomore Emma Zappala’s roommate also tested positive.

“We tried to stay on, like, other sides of the room,” she said. Luckily, Zappala didn’t get the virus from her roommate. “We just tried to not do things at the same time and would clean stuff,” she said.

Unlike BYU’s on-campus housing, there is no university-wide protocol for handling covid cases in off-campus housing. Rather, it’s left to the discretion of the various apartment complexes.

BYU Off-Campus Housing manager Pat Newman told the Daily Universe that “individual owners are responsible for implementing their individual practices.”

But both Zappala and Rustand said their housing complexes didn’t give them any specific guidelines on what to do if they or their roommates test positive.

“Nope. They did not. At all,” Zappala said.

Whether or not their housing managers provide instruction, students who test positive or who have roommates that contract the virus can turn to resources like BYU’s coronavirus website, the CDC and the Healthy Together app for specific COVID-19 information, including what to do if you live with someone who tests positive. 

The Healthy Together app says those who live with people who test positive for COVID-19 must quarantine for 14 days — whether that’s in your own apartment or somewhere else.

For more information, you can visit coronavirus.utah.gov.

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