COVID-19 cases are on the rise at colleges across the country, and Concordia College’s community is no exception. By the end of the first full week of class, 41 people in Concordia’s community tested positive for COVID-19, one of which was Simon Zahrbock, a sophomore studying business finance.
When Zahrbock woke up with a sore throat, cough, and headache on August 27, he thought he might have just caught a cold from one of his housemates that had felt sick the day before. After talking to his housemates and realizing they were all experiencing the same symptoms, they decided to quarantine and get tested until they knew for sure they did not have COVID-19. On Monday night, all four got calls telling them they had tested positive.
“We were actually very relieved,” Zahrbock said. “We were actually quarantining for the right reasons, we know what we have to do now. It was a relief to know what our plans are for the next week.”
While he lives in a house off campus, Zahrbock believes that being at Concordia is what caused him to get sick.
“We haven’t been going to any parties, we haven’t really been going anywhere off campus, we go to a gym, but the first person who got sick doesn’t go to that gym,” said Zahrbock. “We think we just got it through Concordia students, but I’m not 100% sure. We’ve been trying to figure that out, but I guess it’s impossible to know exactly where you got it.”
Because he thinks he was exposed to COVID-19 on campus, and has spent time on campus surrounded by other people, Zahrbock posted on his Instagram story to let others know that he had tested positive.
“I think it’s our responsibility to tell people because I know prior to the day that I tested positive on the day that we got sick I came into contact with a lot of people and I’m not going to be able to remember and reach out to everyone,” he said.
Kelly Lorenz, one of Zahrbock’s friends and teammates, says his openness on Instagram is why she decided to quarantine in her on-campus apartment and get a test for COVID-19. She came into contact with Zahrbock before he started showing symptoms when she stopped by his house to say “hi” while walking by.
To Lorenz, realizing she was potentially exposed and having to wait for a test was stressful, mostly because she had been in contact with others between being exposed and learning about her exposure.
“My mom came to Fargo and I met up with her after I had been potentially exposed, but I didn’t know I was potentially exposed, so that just opens a whole other door for if I do test positive, my whole family could also be affected by this,” she said
While Lorenz was the one potentially exposed to COVID-19, her other two roommates are quarantining as well.
Amelia Landsverk is one of Lorenz’s roommates, and on the second day of her 14-day quarantine, the 12 remaining days seemed daunting.
“We’re trying to make it so we do one fun thing a day. We set that goal yesterday, so hopefully we can do that to stay sane,” she said. “We’re all friends, so that helps, but it would be really weird to be stuck with a roommate you just met.”
Despite being sick with the virus that Concordia has taken measures to prevent the spread of, Zahrbock thinks Concordia is doing the best they can to safely have students on campus, but doubts the efforts put in by the college will be enough.
“I think completely trying to stop the spread of COVID with how many cases there are in Fargo-Moorhead is nearly impossible, and what Concordia is doing has been the appropriate response,” said Zahrbock. “I think we’ll be online within two to three weeks just because pretty much my sole existence as a Concordia student probably got me to contract COVID and I’m guessing that will happen to a lot more students.”
Lorenz wants other students on campus to keep track of who they see each day and act accordingly if they find they have been exposed, as well be aware of how easy it is to unknowingly be exposed to COVID-19.
“I had no idea I had been potentially exposed until five or six days later, and in those days, I saw quite a few people just because I had a lab in person and I went into DS. I didn’t have any symptoms, and I still don’t,” she said. “Even though it sucks to quarantine and no one wants to do it, just do it for the safety of yourself and others.”
If you are experiencing any COVID-19 symptoms or think you have been exposed to COVID-19, call the Campus Medical Officer at (218) 299-3652 open Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.