Ariane de Gennaro

A tickling sensation creeps into my throat and nose. I brace myself for the inevitable — ACHOO!

Bystanders turn towards me and grimace, hardly able to mask their disgust. I watch as they inch their chairs farther and farther away from me…real subtle, guys. 

Throughout these past few weeks, first-year Yalies arrived on campus to a lovely surprise: small dorm rooms without air conditioning, a 100 degree heatwave and, of course, the frat flu, affectionately dubbed the “Yague” — the Yale Plague.

Unfortunately, the mass spread of illnesses amongst my fellow students is fairly common in college due to our close proximity to one another and our tendency to host gatherings where people lack clear judgment due to certain influences. 

Also common: COVID-19. In the wake of a recent COVID-19 outbreak, panic has gripped the campus. One question remains: will students get tested for COVID-19 or will they attribute their symptoms to the Yague?

The temptation to forgo testing is understandable — this particular wave coincided with club applications, course registration and an already-full calendar social activities. Why fall behind and confine oneself to isolation should the test be positive? Our shoebox dorm rooms are sweltering. One can only hope that concern for the well-being of others prevails over the selfish fear of missing a few classes.

However, some students grapple with distinguishing between COVID-19 symptoms and feeling under the weather due to a combination of the Yague, a severe cold and the stifling heat (do I have a fever or is it just really warm)? 

To address this issue, posters have sprung up all over campus with a catchy reminder: “Covid or Yague? Don’t leave it vague.” This message encourages students to undergo COVID-19 testing if they experience any symptoms.

Thankfully, most students have been adhering to Yale’s protocol when exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. They wear masks, isolate and test. Nevertheless, it is challenging to fully disconnect from the Yale community, leading to awkward encounters in dining halls, laundry rooms and communal bathrooms. How do you mask when you’re in the shower? Answer: You don’t. 

Take, for example, this interaction: 

I fill the washing machine with my extremely dirty laundry. Out of the corner of my eye I notice someone coughing incessantly. 

“Heyyy there,” I awkwardly wave.

“Hi, is this machine [the one next to me] empty?” the masked girl asks, leaning in closely. 

“Yeah, but would you mind waiting over there? *I point to the opposite side of room* I really don’t want to get Covid,” I say as I gradually distance myself.

“Yeah sure, I completely understand!” she replies.

“Haha thanks!” 

*We stand on opposite sides of the room, attempting to avoid eye contact.*

This is a cut-and-paste interaction in 2023. But I can’t help but remember 2020, when I’d cross the street to avoid my elderly neighbor with his yappy beagle who had not left his house in six months. Yep, he definitely had COVID-19. 

Folks, Connecticut’s weather is returning to its usual patterns. Sure, the COVID-19 outbreak has started to wane, and students are returning to their classes. But all we can do now is pray for immunity to the Yague. I’ve never wanted to regularly breathe through my nose so badly.

COVID-19-receptive PCR tests were invented in 2020 as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Wait, but Yale doesn’t offer them anymore.