Resident assistants knocked on every door of Karl Danielsen’s floor looking for him. UCLA did not have his measles immunization records on file, and Danielsen had missed a secure message from the Arthur Ashe Health and Wellness Center saying he should be quarantined immediately.
“Someone knocked on the door and asked if I knew where Karl Danielsen is and I responded, ‘I am Karl Danielsen,’” he said.
Danielsen, a second-year computer science student, was one of more than 500 people contacted for proof of immunization records after a UCLA student was diagnosed with measles and UCLA was identified as a site for potential measles exposure April 22. If students could not provide complete vaccination records, they were quarantined until blood test results proved the virus was not in their system.
He was supposed to report to the quarantine area two hours after the initial email was sent. When Danielsen did not show up, a manhunt ensued. He did not even know there was a student at UCLA that had been diagnosed with measles or that he had class in the same building as the infected student earlier that month.
“I basically just said, ‘Okay, whatever,’” Danielsen said. “I’ll do what (the Ashe Center) wants and try to get out of this as fast as possible.”
Danielsen packed an overnight bag and left for Tom Bradley International Hall, where UCLA housed students at risk of contracting measles. The entrance of Bradley Hall had metal plates screwed over the crack in the double doors, sealing the quarantined area from the campus outside.
“Seeing that, I thought ‘Oh my God, this is really serious,’” he said.
Danielsen was assigned to one of the rooms in the male section of the quarantined area. He said the students inside looked on edge, hunched over laptops trying to reach parents and past doctors to obtain their medical information.
“If you cracked a joke, they would sort of just give you a ghostly, wide-eyed look,” Danielsen said. “And that was especially weird because everyone I spoke to said they were in the same boat as me.”
Danielsen did not mind being quarantined, though. Each room had a 65-inch flat screen television, bottled water, toiletries and candy bars for the students to snack on.
“It was a freakin’ summer camp and everyone was acting like we were in a morgue,” Danielsen said. “UCLA definitely made sure we were comfortable.”
Jade McVay, a third-year bioengineering student, was also quarantined last week. A nurse at the Ashe Center told her she could agree to go to Bradley Hall or face the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.
She had class in Franz Hall, one of the buildings which the infected UCLA student visited. The Ashe Center also did not have her measles immunization records.
“I think overwhelmed is the right word because there was that thought in the back of my head that what if I haven’t actually gotten the booster shot,” McVay said. “What if I have caused harm to myself or others without even realizing it?”
She said she expected Bradley Hall to be chaotic and crowded with people, but it turned out to be incredibly relaxed and relatively empty. The staff also accommodated McVay’s nut allergy by consulting a dietitian to find a suitable meal.
“They really tried to make it as comfortable as possible in what could have been an incredibly stressful situation,” McVay said.
Garrett Dahn, a second-year economics and geography student, was at a concert when he learned he needed to be quarantined. Dahn’s roommate told him people were looking for him, so he left the concert and went straight to the quarantined area.
“If I have measles, I shouldn’t be in a room with a bunch of other people,” Dahn said. “So I ended up leaving this concert in the middle and then I went to Bradley (Hall).”
Dahn, who had class in Franz, said he couldn’t believe he was involved with the measles quarantine.
“I was just thinking about ‘Contagion’ the movie,” Dahn said. “It’s very surreal.”
Dahn also enjoyed his quarantine experience and said it was fun.
“I did some of my work, they have great snacks, pizza,” Dahn said. “I was chilling.”
McVay’s father and her friend’s boyfriend are both allergic to the measles vaccination and are thus vulnerable to the disease, so she was disappointed to hear measles had spread to UCLA.
“You’re putting these people who physically can’t protect themselves at a huge risk, especially when things like outbreaks happen,” McVay said. “The fact that there’s a risk for people who can’t protect themselves makes me a little saddened that people are choosing to put themselves and others in harm’s way.”