Salt Shuker ‘25

At least once a day, someone will cough and everyone within earshot will whip their head around to give a “don’t give me COVID” death glare. Not even necessarily to avoid sickness and the spread of it, but just so they don’t have to experience the guilt of lying on their symptom tracker (is that an honor code violation?) (if it is, prepare to get 360 noscoped by Carol Quillen). However, not all coughs are created equal. Here’s a quick rundown of what warrants a COVID test and what is just a healthy amount of college student bodily decay.

A quick throat clear is nothing to worry about, despite how everyone in the vicinity may react. Saying “It’s not COVID, I promise” is unnecessary in this case (but still a funny way to ease the palpable tension). 

A stifled (almost choking) cough immediately followed by, “I have allergies,” isn’t a major cause for concern, but do keep in mind what season it is and if their allergies seem to pass on to others.

A single, wet cough may not be covid, but it’s still nasty as hell. 

A “you’re 18, why are you smoking cigarettes” cough is a medical issue but not one that involves you unless they puff some black lung, Marlboro smog into your face. #LeadingCauseOfChildhoodAsthma #YourKidDoesn’tConsentToSmoking #You’reABadParent #GoSmokeOnThePorch

A persistent cough is definitely troubling. Consider getting tested, even if you don’t think you will statistically be a breakthrough case. The SPE virus is a sneaky b*tch.

A wheezing cough that brings the entire conversation to a halt raises a lot of red flags. COVID or not, they definitely have something, and you do NOT want it. Stay as far away from them as possible and consider sheltering in place until further notice or if/when they eventually die. 

The crisis of hearing a cough and immediately going into fight or flight mode is very real, so hopefully this helped clear some of your medically anxious consciences (please stay off of WebMD). And if you are the one coughing out there, please remember: even if it’s not COVID, no one wants it. Common colds do still exist and flu season is just around the corner. Mask up and get tested, my friends.