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Student from Florissant recovering after COVID-19 outbreak at SIUE

"It was scary. I'm just thankful that it turned out not to be a severe case and I'm now getting better," said Christian McAfee

EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. — A week ago, 19-year-old Christian McAfee said she woke up in her dorm room at Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville and just felt awful.

"I usually do get, like, sore throats or maybe strep around this time, but what got me was a steady cough," said McAfee.

A nasty cough that got worse.

"I didn't want to believe that it was COVID," said the chemistry student who's from Florissant.

However, the SIUE sophomore's results from a rapid COVID test came back positive.

"I started crying because I took literally all the precautions I could, so I think I was shocked," Christian said.

McAfee soon learned she wasn't the only one battling coronavirus.

Her close friend also recently contracted the virus. 

An SIUE spokesman said the university is currently dealing with a COVID-19 outbreak.

"It's serious and that's the issue. I think people don't take it seriously until it's too late," said McAfee.

We're told in the last two weeks 35 students and eight faculty and staff members at the university tested positive. A spokesman also said university officials believe many students got sick after recently attending Halloween celebrations. 

Christian doesn't know how she got the virus.

"After I got my test results, I went back to my car, started crying and that's when I called my mom," she said.

"That's my baby. It's tough because I'm not there with her as her mother to be able to take care of her and tend to her needs. Her dad has been doing porch drop-offs for them," said Denice Roach, McAfee's mom.

Roach, who lives in Florissant, said she has since called and prayed for her daughter every day.

Now, a week later?

"On a scale of one to 10, I think I feel like a five. It's just been a cough every now and again. The sore throat is not as severe as it was. I still can't smell anything and at times, I have really low energy, but I'm slowly getting better. I wish it would all be over," said Christian with a big smile.

"I'm very thankful. I'm telling her each time I talk to her that I'm glad she's doing well," said her mom.

Christian is now temporarily living off-campus. 

Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away and she's already giving thanks.

"I'm glad I didn't have to be hospitalized and that it wasn't a severe case. I want people to know that anybody can catch it," McAfee said.

SIUE will continue in-person learning through next Friday, the start of Thanksgiving break.

A spokesman also says right now, about 2,000 students living in campus residence halls.

Meanwhile, all university events and meetings, whether on or off campus, must now be held virtually through Dec. 4.

Currently, SIUE’s total student population is about 13,000 students.


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