ALESTLE VIEW: Only YOU can prevent the spread of COVID-19

People wearing masks check in at Los Angeles International Airport as Thanksgiving holiday travel gets underway. Despite the public health warnings to avoid Thanksgiving plane travel, some people are taking the risk. (Allen J. Schaben/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

SIUE has updated a lot of their COVID-19 protocol lately. They’ve added rules for testing when returning to campus, and the online COVID Dashboard has been changed and updated quite a bit. There are plenty of rules regarding masks, social distancing and more, but these rules may not be enough.

It’s true that SIUE has had relatively few cases reported overall, but with more and more in-person activities taking place, like student athletes going to away games, precaution is necessary; not just from the administration and rulemakers at SIUE — from all of us.

We know, it can be tempting to wear your mask under your nose, or maybe go to that party on Saturday night. The pandemic has been impacting our lives for almost a full year now. But we, as a university, need to keep it together for a bit longer, because the end of the pandemic depends on it. Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to the president has said he is very optimistic about the current handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and with the new administration in the White House, anything is possible.

Additionally, SIUE has had fewer positive cases than many nearby universities. As of the writing of this article, SIUE has found 12 reported student cases of COVID-19 in the last seven days. Conversely, Illinois State University has 39, and Northwestern University has 30. There are plenty of factors that have affected SIUE’s lower case numbers, but regardless, the best way for SIUE to stay safe is for everyone to stay vigilant.

There were plenty of articles published in August 2020 that begged colleges and universities globally to hold off on school, because bringing students back would certainly increase the positive case rates. One specific, rudely-titled article claimed that college-aged individuals have brains that are not “wired to follow COVID-19 rules.” And these claims may have been somewhat correct for colleges in general, but incorrect at SIUE specifically. SIUE is an example of a university that continued through COVID-19, but kept case counts low.

Regulations only work when followed, and following those rules is a job that can only be done by individuals. Administration can create plenty of guidelines and rules to try to keep campus safe, but if you still go out to parties, or take your mask off when no one is looking, everyone is put at risk. There has been a lot of talk of accountability in the political world lately, so now it’s time for all of us to be accountable for ourselves and follow the guidelines.

So let’s keep following the rules. It may not be an empowering, exciting message to say “Do what you’re told! Accept commands!”, but it’s what’s best under these circumstances, and it works. Some may say, “But nationally, the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions have higher chances of dying from the disease, so I’ll probably be okay,” but if you think this, ask yourself: am I comfortable with those people dying?

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