ROME (WROC) — Chelsea Pullano, a current New Jersey resident who grew up in Webster planned a seemingly innocent vacation to Egypt, then made a last second decision to make Italy her last stop before coming back to the states.
But started out as a simple getaway to Egypt turned into a much longer visit than Pullano intended. She started planning the trip nearly 8 months ago as COVID regulations were letting up, and more people were getting vaccinated.
After spending a week in Egypt and a couple more days in Italy, she needed a negative test result to get on her flight the morning of December 12th. She ended up testing positive for COVID despite being fully vaccinated.
“The days leading up to the trip was when omicron first started becoming more and more prevalent and everyone was getting a little nervous, so more than anything I was keeping an eye on the regulations,” she siad. “‘Can I get into Egypt? Can I get into Italy? Can I get back into the United States when I’m done?'”
She was then escorted by private ambulance to a government sponsored hotel in Italy and ordered to quarantine. Little did she know she’d be stuck inside a room in a foreign country with no fresh air, and meals delivered to her door for the next several weeks.
“So I tested positive again on day 10, and the doctor goes okay so you’ll get your next test in 7 days,” Pullano said. “And I was like, no no no I leave now, right? I leave now. He was like no, you can’t leave until you have a negative test… and that was the first moment like after being in quarantine for 10 days that I really started to understand that I wasn’t trying to meet the United States entry requirements, I was trying to meet Italy’s exit requirements for quarantine which were a completely different ballgame.“
Italy’s restrictions require a negative PCR test, which has been difficult to obtain due to the test’s known sensitivity and affinity for putting out a positive test even well after the symptoms have stopped, according to the CDC.
Pullano is getting her next test this Wednesday January 5th. If she’s negative, she’ll get to go home. If she’s positive, she’ll have to keep testing until she gets that negative result.
“I think the most emotional part of the whole thing was when I got the second positive test back and just that realization that at that point there was no way in hell, I was making it home for Christmas,” she said. “I was very much clinging to that 21-day limit for dear life, and once I found out it was indefinite, and on the CDC website it says, you’ll probably test positive for 90 days, and I’m looking at that, and this feeling of hopelessness, that I’m never going to be able to go home.”
She hopes that by sharing this story, it will raise more awareness that COVID protocols are different depending on where you’re traveling, and just because you’re vaccinated doesn’t mean you can’t still test positive for COVID.