College student who tested positive for COVID-19 urges young people to take virus seriously

College student who tested positive for COVID-19 urges young people to take virus seriously
Marianne Buonopane, 21, thinks she contracted the virus while going out with her friends in Five Points. (Source: WIS)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Since the beginning of April, there has been a 966% increase in newly-reported cases among young people aged 11 to 20 in South Carolina, according to Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) data from April 3 to June 23.

During the same time period, there has been a 413% increase in cases among people aged 21 to 30.

However, one University of South Carolina senior says even with data, she doesn’t expect her peers to stop going out, especially with the upcoming holiday weekend.

“I definitely do have friends that have the mindset that is, ‘If I get it, I get it,’” Marianne Buonopane said. “So, I do think there will be a lot of partying this weekend, but I can’t say for sure.”

Buonopane, 21, says a month ago she had a similar mentality to other people her age who are flippant about the virus.

“I know it’s not a joke, and it’s very serious, but I was like, ‘oh haha, I could have COVID,‘” she said.

However, those thoughts changed when she got the novel coronavirus herself around June 3. She believes she contracted it while out in the Five Points area of Columbia going to bars with her friends.

She says she lost her sense of taste and smell and felt fatigued about 10 days after going out, but didn’t think anything of it until some of her friends tested positive.

“I didn’t really think anything of it because what you hear and see is ‘monitor your fever, see if you have a sore throat,’” she said.

She says it took her a week to get the results of her COVID-19 test, and she spent the week quarantining and telling her friends to get tested and to isolate themselves, as well.

Buonopane says the worst part of the virus was the fatigue. She couldn’t walk outdoors for long, was constantly needing to nap and still says she feels tired a lot of the time, despite contracting the virus a month ago.

The college student says she stays healthy and has no pre-existing conditions, but still worries about her health and the health of her friends because she knows the virus hits everyone differently. That’s now part of her message to people in their 20s who are still going out and rarely wearing a mask or social distancing.

“You have to know it is real, and even if we are healthy and young and we will bounce back, there are people who aren’t,” she said. “You should be worried about others.”

And she says she understands why college students are still going out, but they need to remember what they do now will impact what social life looks like when school comes back in the fall.

“People our age aren’t dying, I do see why they’re going out,” she said. “There’s a tendency to feel slighted because we didn’t get to finish out the semester… at the same time people are dying. It’s serious.”

At the very least, Buonopane hopes other people around her age will try to limit how far they spread the virus after they do ignore CDC guidelines.

“I don’t think the socializing or partying will stop, but if you do that you should keep your other activities limited,” she said.

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