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Davis, California

Monday, June 24, 2024

The pandemic is not over: wear your masks, keep your distance and get tested

The vaccine brings good news, but we are farther from the end than we might think 

When news of a COVID-19 vaccine hit, it was all anyone could talk about—for weeks, our news feeds were overtaken by the high success rates, approval of the vaccine and, eventually, a rollout plan. It was the light at the end of the tunnel we’d all been waiting to see. It was, and still is, exciting.

The possibility of moving on from this in the foreseeable future brought a wave of optimism. Estimates of when who could be vaccinated gave us a tangible date to look forward to, and announcements like the UC’s plan to reopen campuses by fall 2021 showed us that the end is in sight. 

But the last time things were looking up, it didn’t work out so well. Remember when cases were going down at the end of last summer? Scientists warned of a hard winter, but restrictions were lifted, and millions of people, sick with COVID-19 and pandemic fatigue alike, ventured outside again. By November, new daily cases were double what the worst averages of summer were.

Now, as the national daily case average lowers after the worst peak in cases yet, history is repeating itself. California just lifted stay-at-home orders, allowing people to interact once again as outdoor dining, gyms and salons are reopened with restrictions. After so many months of dealing with this pandemic, clear, consistent safety expectations should be in place. Instead, we’ve been weaving in and out of different tiers and modifying restrictions on businesses like nobody’s business. 

While there’s no excuse for defying statewide safety precautions and mandates, the constant changes do make it difficult to know what’s considered safe and when. Not to mention, even if the state did keep a more consistent standard, scientists are constantly debating what measures are actually effective. In an era of alternative facts and multiple truths, the last thing we need are mixed messages.

We can appreciate the optimistic sentiment behind reopening plans—whether it be schools or businesses—but all this hope could be having a negative effect. Instead of inspiring people to wait it out just a little longer, might it be telling them that the end is close enough, that things are getting better fast enough, to not bother worrying about COVID-19 so much anymore?

While some people are acting like we’re almost out of this, science tells us that we’re far from that stage. We don’t have the onset of winter or another flu season to increase caseloads, but new variants of COVID-19 have made their way around the globe. 

The first case caused by the UK variant was discovered in the U.S. in December, and on Jan. 25, the strain originating in Brazil was found in a Minnesota resident. These new strains are reported to be spreading at alarmingly high rates. As if the uncertainty of one virus variant wasn’t enough, we now have multiple strains that we don’t fully understand yet—now is not the right time to ease restrictions.

To make matters worse, the vaccine we were all looking forward to has been administered at much lower rates than planned by this point. On top of that, with a brand new vaccine comes a lot of anxiety, and plenty of people are not planning on getting vaccinated. 

The Editorial Board would like to share our plans to get the vaccine. We have a responsibility to ourselves and our community to do everything we can to keep each other safe, and getting a vaccine with a 95% efficacy rate is a great way to do that. We understand where concerns are coming from, but medical professionals agree that both vaccines are incredibly safe, with no major side effects. We trust their science, and you should too. 

Most students won’t be given the option for several months, so in the meantime, it’s imperative that we maintain social distancing, wear masks and keep a small bubble. It’s not that hard. Plenty of people our age are staying inside or at the very least avoiding large gatherings. UC Davis offers free, easy testing to keep tabs on your status, and besides, it’s week four, don’t you have a midterm to study for? We know you want to celebrate your 21st birthday, but so did the 20-year-old who died—yes, young people do die from COVID-19—so your decision to celebrate, unmasked and indoors, is selfish and deadly. 

The fact of the matter is that it’s not over until it’s over. We can be hopeful that numbers continue going down and believe the policymakers who say we’ll get vaccinated soon, but if there’s anything this pandemic has taught us, it’s that we never know what’s coming next. 

Sure, we can finally see a faint light at the end of a very long tunnel, but as an Editorial Board member put it, that doesn’t mean you destroy the infrastructure of the tunnel, it means you keep it in place, and even continue building it, so you can finally reach the light everyone’s been talking about. 

Written by: The Editorial Board


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