The Gustavian Weekly

COVID-19 cases on campus spike: Are we really surprised, though? - The Gustavian Weekly

By Emma Pufahl - Opinion Columnist | November 13, 2020 | Opinion

Gusties in the COVID era are minimizing contact with the outside world, but in the midst of it all, some students continue to work off-campus jobs. While this may first appear as an unnecessary risk, especially when there is work study available on-campus, it is not. In fact, it is a necessary and unavoidable risk and a rather small one at that.
As we all know, a “lay-low” period has been put into place. After six weeks back on campus, we finally saw a large jump in positive student cases. I’m sure most of us are not happy with the new regulations, but are we surprised that this is where we are?
Colleges across the country have already had issues with COVID-19 outbreaks. It started to feel like we were never going to have the large uptick in cases like those that have been so commonplace to hear about on the news. But here we are. Over half of our total COVID cases, 66 of the 127 total positive cases since Aug. 15, are active right now (as of Nov. 10).
While I greatly appreciate and commend those who have worked so very hard to prevent this from happening, I do think that we’ve allowed some activities to occur that should never have even been an option.
My largest grievance is with the music department. I’m sure many of you know that all of the orchestra, jazz, and various band groups that exist on campus have been meeting in person. Everyone stands six feet apart and are masked, but brass and woodwind instrument players have masks with holes cut out of them so they can still play them. When I hear this, I imagine one of the videos of the COV-IDiots where the person has cut out the mouth of their mask so they would be able to breathe better.
While the masks used by Gusties don’t look like this, I can’t help but think that the effectiveness of the masks greatly decreases. These students are also required to place a mask on the end of their instruments as another safety precaution, so their germy breath doesn’t shoot into the air. How many precautions should be our limit? Like many other student orgs, they are also still meeting in person during this “lay-low” period.
The Caf is a very scary place if you have a fear of catching “the ‘Rona.” I am grateful that I don’t have a meal plan and can avoid going to the Caf all together, especially since each time I went to the Caf, I left absolutely horrified. The employees in the Caf are trying their best, but during lunch and dinner rushes, there are just too many people to make sure everyone is doing the right thing.
As a PSA, although it is more environmentally friendly to use reusable plates and utensils, I would highly encourage everyone to opt for the take-out containers. I don’t know if you guys know this, but people are gross. Really gross. I cannot tell you how many people will either not sanitize their hands upon entering the Caf, or will sanitize their hands but then play with their masks and then grab a plate or touch a communal resource that may not be sanitized between every user.
We also all know a group of people who will either try to have two or more people at a table or will sit around to chat for an hour and “forget” about putting their masks back on. This isn’t acceptable during a global pandemic. It may seem minor and knit-picky, but when people are dying because of negligence, can it really be seen as minor?
There are also so many Gusties that live on-campus that make off-campus plans every weekend. The college cannot control everything we do and the areas of college-life they have no control over are where we are most likely to get infected. We are adults who need to make adult decisions on our own. Unfortunately, too many people in our age bracket don’t really consider themselves as a risk. Our age bracket will often say “I’m young, if I get Coronavirus, it won’t be a big deal, I’ll be fine.” This is a big deal. This virus is not like the flu. We know a lot about Influenza and we are nearing a full year of COVID with so many unknowns yet to be answered.
We don’t know the long-term effects that this will have on people who were asymptomatic, had a mild case or on those who were taken off their feet by this illness. We just don’t know anything and we shouldn’t take our health (and youth) for granted. We should be taking these precautions. We shouldn’t try to weasel our way out of wearing masks or social distancing. I’m telling you now, you are not the exception. We all need to take this seriously and act like being in public or being relaxed about COVID restrictions is life or death, because it is.
I am grateful that Gustavus is trying to take this pandemic seriously and trying to hold people accountable, but unfortunately, it isn’t enough. We need to keep each other accountable and remember that these restrictions are not forever. The sooner we all follow the rules and regulations, the sooner we will be able to be done with it and the world can go back to some form of normalcy. But for now, sanitize everything you own, stop going out to eat in public places, thank a Gustavus employee and wear your mask.

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