Safe and sound and COVID-19 negative back in the US

Coming to Boston was definitely easier than going to Denmark this summer—at least there wasn’t a risk of being turned away at the border—but it also wasn’t exactly easy. Cancelled flights, state travel rules, booked-up COVID-19 test centers, and layer upon layer of MIT pandemic policy made it all a bit more complicated than I anticipated.

And on top of all that, my mattress won’t be here for another week! They said 3-5 days 14 days ago!

Whining aside, after two wonderful months with Clemens in Denmark, I’ve arrived safe and sound in Boston (Somerville, really) to start my PhD. And unlesss I managed to get myself infected within the last 4 days, I’m virus-free.

At least COVID-19-free. There are almost certainly some other, more low-key viruses just minding their own business in my nose wondering what drove me to stick a cotton swab up there.

Anwyays, I know that I don’t have COVID-19 because I was tested the day after I arrived in Boston. Massachusetts has a pretty strict 14-day quarantine requirement for travellers from anywhere outside of New England and New York, but if you test negative you’re free to move around. It’s unclear if or how this will be enforced, but I wanted to play along and respect the health of my roommates by getting a test.

The test was definitely more of a formality than anything else, though, since Denmark (among plenty of other countries) is actually doing a lot better COVID-wise than even success-story US states like MA. The quarantine requirement for all international travellers strikes me as more of a punishment than a justified pandemic control measure.

Getting a test wasn’t as straightforward as I anticiapted—mostly because I didn’t anticipate. If you call a few weeks in advance, there are free testing centers that serve most neighborhoods in greater Boston. Even asymptomatic people can get tested for free there. But I didn’t think in advance.

Ultimately, got a test by signing up for a primary care provider through MIT Medical. After doing that, I was able to get a test there, since that’s where I get my primary care (as of a the day I booked the test). I wanted a PCP, so bonus!

Not-bonus: It turns out, MIT policy requires returning international travellers to quarantine for 7 days before testing them or allowing them on campus for any reason. The nurse who took my test was very nice about telling me this, but in the future I’ll need to plan ahead a bit better.

That all taken care of, I can move on from travel and testing concerns. Now it’s time to focus on getting started here which, until my research poject gets going, will mean a lot of MIT onboarding and waiting around for Amazon deliveries.

Anyways, not a particularly unique story from this time of non-complimentary and often overlapping institutional and governmental COVID-19 policies. The upshot is, I’m safe in Boston.

I just hope I’ll soon be able to say the same for my mattress!