Getting Covid Twice: One Year Apart


Paulino Mercenari

Managing Editor Paulino Mercenari reflects on his two experiences contracting COVID-19, one year apart.

Paulino Mercenari, Managing Editor

These last two Christmases, I’ve received the same unwanted gift twice in a row: testing positive for the COVID-19 virus. 

Although a lot of the protocols regarding receiving an unwanted positive test have fundamentally stayed the same, the degrees to which I have experienced the virus varied wildly. Many things, such as the general response I received when contacting close contacts, to even my periods of isolation and the severity of my isolation all turned into ever-changing variables.

Getting COVID in December of 2020

Last December, getting my positive COVID test back was like receiving an absolute punch to the gut. At a time when less was known about the virus and the disease had taken a heavy toll on many people who were close to me, it meant entering an uncertain fourteen days of isolation. My parents took it the same way, trying any preventative treatment they had to read about online or heard from doctors in an effort to lessen symptoms. Isolation, too, felt all the stricter. I only received meals through the window and was forbidden by any means from leaving my bedroom. Surprisingly (or unsurprisingly) enough as someone with no underlying medical conditions, my actual battle with the virus was the least exciting part. I felt some exhaustion and nausea for a period of less than two days, but outside of that I was probably most impacted by the lack of exercise I received for those fourteen days. 

Since last year was all about staying at home for many, many, people, few of my usual day-to-day activities were impacted by my isolation. Due to the hybrid school system, I still attended class, went to club meetings, and turned in my work. Nothing really changed in regards to my education. 

Finally receiving that negative test was euphoric, as at the time it felt like I had bested COVID. To me in December 2020, I believed beating the virus was a signal that the end of the pandemic was in sight, and that those antibodies would last me for as long as I needed them, or at least until it was my turn in the queue of priority groups to get the poke. As we all know, it turned out that things would drag on for much longer.

Now if we pull ourselves into the present, receiving that dreaded positive test for a second time felt like a different beast altogether. Although, instead of my encounter this time being comparable to coming across an alligator while trudging through a swamp in the middle of the Florida Everglades, it was more like… walking down a beaten up sidewalk and almost stepping on a cottonmouth snake in my path. The possibility of a poisonous bite was there, albeit rare, and receiving any form of medical care would more than likely be able to treat me.  

Getting COVID in January of 2021

In the middle of January 2021, I learned that I had received COVID-19 for a second time. This time around, seeing the notification hit me much more like a shrill alarm that left me with a ring in my ear. But even then, I knew that the discomfort wouldn’t last forever. Especially being vaccinated and believing myself to still have some form of existing antibodies, I felt that this bout wouldn’t affect me as badly.

When I told others who I had recently contacted that I had come up positive, it did not really seem to phase them. All around, letting people know I had the virus seemed for them to be more of an inconvenience with having to get tested for confirmation of a negative more so than believing they were at any real risk. 

There are two real key differences I can identify in my experience with the virus. The first is infectivity. The first time I got it, I was mortified, thinking that the rest of my family would shortly come up positive after I had been in such close contact with them in the days prior. But in the end, I was the only positive one. The second time around, almost everybody in my family had gotten it, and I ended up being the third positive. Even isolation was different, as I gave myself the chance to take masked, late night walks to the beach to preserve my sanity. People even hung out by my door frame to talk to me while we were both masked. During my second time getting COVID, the virus only lasted for five days between the first positive and my first negative test. It felt much more like a weekend bout than anything else. Even symptom-wise, I felt nothing that I could identify as a negative side effect of the virus.

School was different as well, as I was the only student online during the week. I could hear lectures and keep up with my work but interaction was limited. Compared to the hybrid model, it felt significantly less engaging, but I suppose that was an intentional choice, as the school makes an effort to bring everything back into a completely in-person method of schooling.

Overall, while both my experiences with the virus were relatively tame, people who were close to me that went through it were not as lucky. Many still retain a nasty cough weeks or months after their encounters, or were bedridden while going through the virus. Especially with new variants, there is a great deal that we do not know and many precautions still have to be taken as a result. Each person is affected differently and we are still in the woods. Thankfully, the sentiment could be taken that we have finally gotten past the worst patches of the forest, even if it is difficult for us to find an end in sight.