Noah Wilbur | Opinions Editor
With the spring semester commencing around America, college students will once again face a great deal of uncertainty as COVID-19 continues to sweep across the nation. One thing is certain though: the new semester will look very similar to this past fall.
Institutions of higher learning are making it abundantly clear that the same stringent policies and social distancing guidelines are still in place to reduce the likelihood of a campus-wide outbreak.
From temperature checks and daily health screens, to limited capacity in classrooms and mandatory mask wearing, students can expect the full arsenal of preventative measures to be on display.
Although the normal day-to-day routine is seemingly unchanged for the foreseeable future, what has changed is the outlook of the coronavirus pandemic.
With the recent development of two effec tive vaccines, and more on the way, the evidence continues to grow that there is indeed a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. However, I’m not entirely convinced said light is not an approaching train.
As of Wednesday morning, there were 96.2 million cases worldwide and 2.06 million deaths. The U.S. alone accounted for 25% and 20%, respectively.
These statistics admittedly do not paint a rosy picture, and in fact, contradict my previous claim that COVID-19 has improved. But bear with me for a few moments as we dive a little deeper and explore some recent trends that supports that better times are coming.
As reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), hospitalization and mortality rates have both steadily declined since the end of December. According to data obtained from The Covid Tracking Project, hospitalizations due to the coronavirus are down more than 10% from last week in 19 states with modest declines in 28 other states.
What’s more, analysts from Bernstein Research project 200 million Americans will be vaccinated by May 31. In addition, Dr. Anthony Fauci stated in December that if the vaccination campaign goes according to plan, herd immunity is possible by the end of summer.
Most importantly, President Joe Biden recently announced a $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. A considerable portion of the stimulus is to be allocated to state and local governments for the purpose of increasing testing and vaccination efforts — another indication that we can potentially shift the tide in coming months.
This abundant optimism should of course be taken with a grain of salt as there is still a long and windy road ahead before reaching a full recovery. Nevertheless, it is rather encouraging to know progress is being made. Albeit slowly.
With the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines already being distributed and other vaccines likely to be approved by the FDA in the near future, we are undoubtedly on the right path to achieving herd immunity and returning to some sort of normalcy — define “normal” however you see fit.
A growing number of Americans hold the belief that since the vaccine was “rushed,” then it cannot be safe. This fear is warranted, and I am by no means suggesting to drop whatever you’re doing at this moment to sign-up for the earliest possible vaccination.
That being said, the cold hard truth is we will never wake up from this terrible dream without at least 75% to 85% of the population vaccinated.
This is the first step to complete inoculation. I believe those who are worried about receiving the vaccine should do the necessary research. What you find just might surprise you.
For now, it appears the light at the end of the tunnel is indeed hope on the horizon rather than a 6,000 pound locomotive moving at full speed.
Without full cooperation from all Americans, it is nearly certain the pandemic will spiral out of control yet again — especially with new strains already emerging around the globe.
Let’s avoid this potential disaster by continuing to wear masks in public, adhering to the guidelines set in place by local governments, and maintaining proper social distancing in the necessary settings.
If we join together and each do our part, I am optimistic we can overcome this mighty obstacle and begin down the path of a brighter future.