Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Despite vaccines and Easter recess, COVID-19 has not ended


Since the beginning of the Coronavirus pandemic in the United States, we have been hoping for a vaccine. Now, with three vaccines distributed to the public, it is a time of great excitement for many. However, I believe it is also a time where we need to remember COVID-19 has NOT ended. We need to continue to be vigilant and safe, perhaps even more so with Easter recess approaching.
Currently, vaccines from Pfizer BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson are available for individuals eligible for vaccination. According to the CDC, “Over 126 million doses of COVID-19 vaccine were administered in the United States from December 14, 2020, through March 22, 2021.”
These vaccines are meant to help prevent an individual from experiencing severe symptoms and potentially help mitigate the spread of the virus to others. When individuals hear this, they may think to themselves: ‘so if I get vaccinated, I can just go back to normal.’
However, that is not true. Although the vaccine is a step toward normalcy, I believe the real step toward normalcy is continuing to prioritize safety. This means continuing to abide by the COVID-19 policies that have been set in place.
In a March 25 COVID-19 briefing, Augustana College stated, “Masking is required on campus whether you are fully immunized or not. Also, if you leave campus to dine, choose an outdoor location where you can maintain a distance of at least six feet from others.”
A large reason why I believe we must continue being vigilant is that not everyone who wants to get the vaccine has gotten it. Reasons for not having gotten the vaccine include ineligibility, mistrust, or certain health risks such as allergies.
“We will still need to wear masks and practice physical distancing until a large proportion of the population is vaccinated and we are sure the vaccine provides long-term protection. Initially, we will not have enough vaccines to vaccinate everyone who wants the vaccine and the virus still will be transmitted,” according to the Rock Island County Health Department.
It is also important to note that even with more and more individuals getting the vaccine, Illinois is experiencing an increase in COVID-19 cases which may lead to another surge.
“For much of March, state data showed the average number of new daily cases hovering around 1,500 to 1,600. But in the past 10 days, that figure has climbed over 2,000,” wrote Joe Mahr in the Chicago Tribune.
It has been over a year of living with the pandemic in the United States, which is admittedly tiring. Nonetheless, if we want this to end there cannot be another large surge that we cannot control.
Even with news of a surge, I have seen many individuals on campus with their masks down or not even on. This is concerning as it shows that people are getting more lenient, whether that is due to the vaccines or simply because of pandemic fatigue.
This becomes even more concerning as Easter recess approaches, where no classes are in session Friday, April 2, and Monday, April 5. Many students at Augustana College are choosing to go home to celebrate with family. In fact, since we did not have a spring break, some may even treat this weekend as their spring break.
Although it is important to enjoy the weekend and the much-needed break after midterms, it is even more important to realize that we cannot let our guards down now. We have to be as safe as we have been for past holidays, surrounding ourselves with as few other people as possible.
“The safest way to observe religious and spiritual holidays this year is to gather virtually, with people who live with you, or outside and at least 6 feet apart from others,” according to the CDC.
Although it is not ideal to spend holidays in such a way, it is necessary. The vaccines, although a sign of hope and progress, are not an excuse to stop being safe altogether. In addition, the surge that is on the rise shows that we are still a vulnerable nation.
With unity, perseverance, and prioritizing safety for a while longer, we can overcome this pandemic and return to normalcy before we know it.
Graphic by Jordan Lee.

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Despite vaccines and Easter recess, COVID-19 has not ended