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A Covid Thanksgiving at State

STATE COLLEGE Pa. — For Nolan Martino, a senior economics major, what was supposed to be a small gathering on Nov. 14 to watch the Penn State Nittany Lions take on the Nebraska Cornhuskers turned out to be much larger than originally intended.

As it turns out, Martino was exposed to COVID-19 after having a party at his house on Saturday Nov. 14.

“I knew I was exposed the Monday before Thanksgiving break when my roommate Vinny went to get a departure Covid test [at the Bryce Jordan Center] and it came back positive,” Martino said.

Martino admits he was not taking the pandemic as serious as he should be. He was partying and not wearing his mask as often as he could have been and now wants to take this experience as a lesson to be overall healthier.

Vinny Meinert, a fourth year architectural engineering major, was the first person in the house to test positive. Meinert said he felt guilty and partly responsible for his roommates getting Covid despite having all agreed to have people over to watch the game.

Martino says that it wasn’t until that Wednesday when the symptoms started to kick in and he immediately made an appointment at University Health Services for a rapid test, which came back positive. Martino and his roommates isolated themselves in their house for a total of 16 days.

“At first I thought it would be fine. We’ll all just sit in the house and go about our normal fun, but I was tired. I felt really down and had no motivation to do anything but sleep,” Martino said.

Martino has a hereditary blood clotting disorder and was concerned how covid would affect his body. He spent the first two days of the virus in bed trying to cope with fatigue as well as flu-like symptoms and no taste or smell.

As Thanksgiving was rounding the corner, Martino and his roommates tried to make the best of the situation. The night before Thanksgiving they decorated their house with string lights and repurposed an old cornhole set for a makeshift bar.

Without his sense of taste or smell, Martino’s roommate Joe Hassett, senior finance major, pulled together a full Thanksgiving feast. Along with the help of his mom who ordered them a premade ham.

(Photo provided by Nolan Martino)

“I love to cook and since I was feeling the best I took one for the team,” Hassett said. “I made a couple of pies and a bunch of sides,” he continued.

Since COVID-19 preys on the lungs, Martino had to quit smoking. He says it was practically impossible to smoke with the implications Covid brought and he’s now taking Covid as a lesson to be healthier.

“Since Covid I’ve tried to be a lot healthier. I’ve stopped drinking as much and I stopped using nicotine which has been great for my lungs. I’ve been using vitamins super diligently and eating healthier to up my immune system,” Martino said.

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