How To Live in Quarantine

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By Thomas W. Franck

In an emotional sense, Harvard can be an isolating place. But when you have mumps, it is the literal definition of an isolating place. Specifically, Harvard has become a place that isolates its students so much that it quarantines them in uninhabited Inns, and neglects to inform existing residents. So for those who either feel overwhelmed by the metaphorical isolation of their lives or by the literal quarantine of their mumps-infected room, Flyby has some tips on how to live in isolation:

Keeping Yourself Entertained

There are a couple straightforward options here. First, you can live vicariously through others by constantly updating your Snapchat feed and hoping that Harvard will get a mumps-specific filter. Adding celebrities on Snapchat is a new trend, and odds that they have mumps are low. Then, you can check your Instagram and Facebook. Eventually, face-timing friends in hopes that someone will care enough to answer is a good option, and you can check out Flyby’s special coverage on dating apps (let’s hope rumors haven’t spread of your viral infection), because clearly this attempt to find love (looking at you, PSK) didn’t end well.

Eating Regular Meals

For this section, instead of writing our own potential options, we’re just going to copy and paste the email sent to students with mumps itself. No, this is not a joke. This is the actual email received by students with mumps who have been isolated at the Inn:

You can use the HUDS website to see what is being offered, and then email your dining hall manager -- James Carr,james_carr@harvard.edu -- and the House deliverer about 45 minutes before you would like to eat. In fact, if you would like, you could place your order for all three meals at once, and just indicate pick up times for each meal. You can order hot or cold food, and HUDS will have it ready for the deliverer to pick it up. Once the meal has been picked up at the dining hall, the deliverer should call the student to let them know the food is on the way. The student should remain in their room with the door closed.

When the food is delivered, it will be placed by the deliverer on the floor in front of the student’s room, in the hallway. The deliverer will knock on the door. The deliverer will move away from the door and leave the area. The student should wait a minute or two after the knock for the deliverer to move away from the door. Then, the student may open the door and retrieve the food, closing the door behind them.

You read that correctly; no human contact for those infected with the big bad mumps, even at meal time. If that message isn’t isolating, I don’t know what is.

Make Sure People Care

Posting on Facebook might not be the best option if you don’t want people to avoid you for unnecessary reasons once you’ve recovered, but garnering pity through various Groupme’s and spending your time making sure the blocking group iMessage chat explodes every time your friends get out of class can be a meaningful and fulfilling way to pass your newly acquired never-ending free time. Because the other people also in quarantine likely have mumps, consider passing them messages through the doors asking if they would like to Netflix and chill.

If all else fails, do not fear: your literal isolation only lasts about two weeks, so the end is always in sight. For all those who are currently unscathed, keep calm and enjoy your freedom. You never know when a little case of the mumps could turn you too into a victim of isolation.

Check back for our next installment of How To every other Monday!

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