It is undeniable that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has dramatically changed all of our lives in just a few months. According to John Hopkins data, the U.S. is leading the world in the number of confirmed cases as the death toll climbs upwards. However, that has not seemed to stop people from wanting to live as normally as possible, despite us living in a very abnormal situation.
According to CDC data, people aged 60+ are in one of the highest risk groups for mortality when it comes to COVID-19 infections. However, a recent ABC News article reported that hospitals are actually seeing a rise in younger-aged COVID-19 admissions.
The myth that younger people are “safe” from the virus is slowly being rebuked, as the case numbers in the age group of 18-49 tick upwards. We have seen stories of previously healthy individuals fall ill to the virus, leading them to be very sick for weeks or even die.
Mayra Ramirez, a 28-year-old UNCW alumnus was the first person in the U.S. to have a double-lung transplant due to COVID-19. There are recent studies in the Journal of the American Medical Association, showing that long-lasting implications can include heart damage or even failure.
As colleges are beginning to welcome students back onto campus for the fall semester, there are still many questions about safety regarding faculty, campus employees and those who live in the community full-time. Students need to remain mindful of the risk of virus transmission, as the COVID-19 virus can also be spread asymptomatically.
Just because colleges are opening for on-campus and face-to-face instruction does not mean that we are in an ideal place regarding case numbers. I urge my fellow students to follow UNCW’s guidelines of practicing social distancing and wearing masks as much as possible while on and off-campus and around others, as this is the only defense against the virus that we currently have.
Even with hopes of a vaccine by the end of the year, mass distribution will not take place until at least 2021, according to a CNET article.
I understand how difficult it is to make a previously social environment adherent to current public health guidelines, but it is so crucial for younger people to start taking this more seriously.
The ideas that “Oh I’m young, it will not affect me” and “Worst case is that I will be sick for a few days, I am not going to let that stop me from living my life” are leading to the rises in cases, according to an ABC News article.
We do not need articles and data to tell us that, we are seeing it all around us, especially on social media. While I made the decision to take a fully online/ remote semester, other UNCW students made different choices about how much they are returning to campus in the fall.
“In-person learning is the only way I can truly immerse myself in my education,” said an anonymous UNCW sophomore. “We are responsible enough to be in college, so if [students] are being responsible, outbreaks will be minimal. Most of us will recover.”
I hope that students will rise to the challenge and responsibility of helping keep their community safe during these times. When it comes to this pandemic, the only way out is through, and to try and find a way around it will only prolong the effects.
To the students heading back to Wilmington from their hometowns, imagine that you are a guest in the Airbnb of the community. You want a good rating to stay there again. Be kind, be mindful, and stay healthy for the sake of those around you.
Do not get a bad rating by congregating in large groups, not wearing masks, and spreading the virus, because you may not even be aware that you are doing it. Do not be fearful, be informed. We are all navigating this situation together, and it is our moral responsibility to make sure as many people get through it as safely as possible.