Have you had a COVID talk with your roommate yet?

UNI student Mary Carmen

While Panthers have done a great job of working together to slow the spread of COVID-19, case levels nationally are expected to begin rising as we enter the fall and winter months. Having a frank conversation about safety precautions is a good way to ensure that everyone in your residence, whether on or off campus, stays safe. 

We reached out to some UNI public health students to ask how they’ve handled it.

Have you had a COVID talk with your roommates? How did it go? 

Madison Skantz, Student Public Health Association: My roommates and I had the COVID talk before moving back in August. It went so well, which I am very happy about because I was very nervous. Luckily, we are all on the same page and have had no troubles so far. 

Orlando Garrison-Arellano, SPHA member: My roommate and I have not had the conversation, but we know we should do the right thing and follow some guidelines. Him being a world-class athlete, I know it is important to him to be as healthy as possible, and he knows I cherish school day-to-day, so missing is not an option. We respect each other enough to not put ourselves at risk and avoid the time loss we cannot afford.

What kind of rules do you have for visitors?

Mary Carmen San Elias Martinez, SPHA member: We have to let each other know when someone is coming over, and they have to have a mask on at all times unless eating or drinking. [UNI student Mary Carmen San Elias Martinez]  

Skantz: We all allow each other to have visitors as long as we can ensure they have not been knowingly exposed. 

What will you do if one of you needs to quarantine/go into isolation? 

Samantha Habinck, master’s student in the Public Health program and SPHA member: If one of us comes down with a positive test result, we will all quarantine and isolate together. We will make sure to notify our parents/social contacts we've been in close contact with so they know to keep an eye out for any symptoms that may arise. We will order in food through DoorDash/Grubhub, order groceries online and stay home! I have a few ideas for new recipes and fun crafts we can do together to keep us busy! 

Skantz: We actually all got exposed to COVID together earlier this semester and three-fourths of us (including myself) tested positive. Since only one roommate escaped it, she decided on her own to go home and self isolate in her parents basement so she wouldn't continue to expose herself to us until our 14 days were up. At that point, we decided that if we are exposed again, we would have the minority leave the apartment and let the majority stay so if roles are reversed next time and three-fourths of us test negative, the positive case will quarantine elsewhere. 

How do you handle shared responsibilities like cleaning, etc during a pandemic? And how do you keep lines of communication open?  

Kennedy Kuta, SPHA president: My roommates and I have definitely kept cleaning high on our priority list during these crazy times. We all do our part in wiping down common sitting/eating areas, along with using Clorox wipes to sanitize door handles, light switches and other commonly touched spaces daily. We have decided to be very open about the concept and that our opinions will be taken seriously regarding guests and going out and about in the community. (We have been limiting both). I think having open communication has helped us stay sane and kept us in check about making good decisions not only regarding our own health, but the health of our families and other people in the community.