What it's like to be quarantined on a college campus

Ying’s stay only lasted a few hours. After he checked in with Ashe Center workers at a table in Bradley Hall, he was assigned to one of four gender-segregated rooms. Once he took his blood test to determine his immunity—the results of which wouldn’t be ready until at least the next day—“there was nothing to do … but just sit there,” Ying recalls. “People weren’t socializing.” The Ashe Center had stipulated that anyone who wasn’t cleared by 8 p.m. that day had to stay overnight. Ying had been vaccinated in China—where he spent much of his childhood and where his parents currently live—so he wasn’t optimistic that he’d be able to get his records in time to escape before curfew.

Some people around him were watching the Rockets-Jazz game, while sitting on the hard mattresses provided. Others were eating. There was plenty of food: ”pizza, salad, Indian (like naan and all the other stuff), pastries, soda, and everything,” says Ying. Ying and others were also able to keep in touch with people on the outside—they were free to bring cellphones and laptops into quarantine. Ying used his phone to get in touch with family members and ask them to look for his vaccination records, and to let his UCLA friends know he was fine.

“Before, 10 or 20 years ago, when someone was in quarantine it was kind of hard to get hold of them,” he says. This time, “people would be texting me and I would update them on what’s happening—especially my roommates. They were like, ‘Hey, any updates? What’s going on?’ And we constantly kept in contact, so there was no aspect of Oh, is he going to be okay?”