Peyton Zigrang never gets headaches. So, when her head started to pound on Sept. 1, she knew something was wrong. When it was still there the next morning, she decided to go to the COVID-19 testing site at Mizzou North. She said the very fact that she had to drive off-campus to get a test “weirded” her out.
“A lot of freshmen don’t have cars,” Zigrang said.
After a short mix-up about a referral — no one had ever told Zigrang that she needed a doctor’s referral to receive a test — she got her test. A few hours later, she had the results.
What she didn’t have were any instructions from the University of Missouri about what she should do next. After he positive test, no one called her about what to do, so she waited in her room. The next day, Zigrang’s mother told her the university had called her about quarantine housing or going home. Later, a caseworker finally contacted Zigrang directly to let her know she would be staying in a hotel. Which hotel? What time would she need to be ready by? What should she expect in the meantime?
The caseworker did not tell Zigrang any of those things.
At 9 p.m., a van picked Zigrang up to take her to the University-chosen hotel. The hotel walls were thin. Across the hall from her, Zigrang could hear people screaming and banging on those thin walls. As the apparent fight moved outside her door in the early hours of the morning, Zigrang called her parents because she feared for her safety.
Zigrang’s parents began making calls. A call to the hotel Zigrang was originally staying in revealed management wasn’t even aware MU had been booking students to stay there for quarantine. A room at the Tiger was booked, starting the next day. Zigrang’s stepmother called her caseworker, angry at the unsafe situation in which they had put Zigrang.
"You could tell that there was a huge lack of communication between the hotels and Mizzou,” Zigrang said. “But at the Tiger Hotel, when I got there the next day, I felt a lot safer there. They had a better system including quarantine floors, it seemed like everyone on that floor was a student."
Even after the fiasco of the first hotel, Zigrang said communication between her and MU was sparse.
“[My caseworker] just didn't really seem like she knew what she was doing,” Zigrang said. “She didn't really contact me throughout all of this, the contact tracers didn't even contact me until a week after I tested positive. So that's a full week people who were exposed could have been out there, not knowing."