Student travel fumbles COVID-19 ball at goal line - Grand Valley Lanthorn

Student travel fumbles COVID-19 ball at goal line - Grand Valley Lanthorn

It’s been a year since Michigan’s first recorded cases of COVID-19, and half a million people have died, with many more hospitalized or facing the long-term effects of the virus. To add to that, millions have lost jobs and are experiencing food and housing insecurity. 

There’s a grim reality that sits on our shoulders as we carry the immense losses and lifestyle changes associated with the start of the pandemic a year ago, but some people are still stubbornly refusing to acknowledge the reality of the situation, just like they did a year ago. 

A quick scroll through social media shows students returning to beaches as they did before we understood the true severity of the virus, as well as how to limit its spread. Even as vaccines begin to roll out, rumblings of a potential “third wave” stem from unwarranted relaxation from people largely sick of dealing with the pandemic for over a year now.

This year has not been easy, and it’s understandable that students would want a break; despite the fact that the people traveling right now probably aren’t the ones who have had it the worst.  

Changes to schooling have amplified the stresses of attending college. From professors shifting workloads to students being forced to adapt their former time management strategies, the burnout is tangible. Paired with the lack of a spring break to detox from the usual stressors, students have every right to want to escape to a beach and recuperate their mental health. For many, the pandemic has felt like an anti-social prison. 

However, with the interconnectedness of a campus community that still largely hosts hybrid and in-person classes, what students bring back with them from their travels might be a two-week quarantine for a contaminated classmate. Even worse, it may be a trip to the hospital for them or a loved one. 

While it’s been said before, it’s worth restating that we’re in the home stretch. 

When the weather gets warmer, we tend to get out more. The vaccine rollout has seemingly provided us with a similar reaction, as more people are vaccinated, we’re seeing more people feeling comfortable going out, dining and drinking indoors, and enjoying themselves. 

Part of this lack of fear is rational in that while some of the fully-vaccinated people going out are reportedly safe to do so, but masks and social distancing are still encouraged by the CDC even if you’ve received both shots of the vaccine. CDC leaders have been expressing that scientists and virologists are still learning more about the original strain of the COVID-19 virus, and also seeing new strains pop up is even more worrisome. 

With new strains, there may be a need for new vaccines and bringing back strict precautionary quarantining and travel restrictions. That’s the social danger of our ignorance: the health and wellness threats are even more dire. 

The confusion and questions remain, and we still have a leg to go in this effort to save lives, limit economic devastation, and prevent people from lifetimes of medical complications. Don’t let everything slip when normalcy is in sight.