By Emily Hanson | | Contributing Writer
After 18 long months, looking out at my college campus as a first-year and seeing people in masks is, admittedly, not what I had hoped for my first impression. Having a senior year entirely online, as I’m sure you all either experienced or saw, had its trials and tribulations—plenty of them—and it’s dismaying to not reap the benefits I feel I earned for my freshman year of college. All that being said, the unfortunate introduction of the Delta variant in the fight against COVID-19 not only interrupted a steady decline of COVID-19 cases, but a rather successful campaign to get many people fully vaccinated against the disease.
In one word, the Delta variant sucks. Obviously. I know everyone’s tired of hearing about it, but that makes the information even more relevant (especially as it’s continuously disregarded). The Delta variant has also come at such an inopportune time that I can’t help but wonder if the universe is out to get us all. There’s a common notion, though (acted upon by many Americans right now), that if the universe bites us for too long, we should bite back by behaving the way we want without regard for safety. Young adults can be understandably rash in their delusions of invincibility, thus sentiments of “I can’t get COVID-19 if my mask is only off for five minutes” or “my party with 50 friends will stay safe from the virus” are clouded by the denial of someone who is sick of not being able to live their life.
Like I said, I get it, because I’ve been living it, too, but sometimes looking out for the people around us, and thinking about the new changes that have arisen in the last few months (because “the cases are going down and we aren’t required to wear our masks!” is not exactly a viable excuse anymore) is the only way we can be conscientious enough to ensure the lifting of our mask mandates as soon as possible.
Also, is it worth the risk to stay in the dark about the Delta variant, as the most updated data prior to its arrival is, regrettably, no longer reliable? Inherently, the Delta variant makes COVID-19 more transmissible, and spreads more quickly than the original variant, according to Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove of the World Health Organization “Science in 5” podcast. As of this summer, COVID-19 regulations in general have been more laid back and some even removed entirely. This was fine, of course, until the cursed Delta variant arrived (which of course is bigger and badder at a time where the vaccine rollout was succeeding)! But lately, as the “world remains largely susceptible to infection, including the Delta variant,” we must hold ourselves accountable to be aware of the risks and even perform simple preventative measures (“Science in 5: Delta Variant”). These might include washing our hands, opening windows in crowded spaces—like the dorms—and especially getting vaccinated. We never know who we come in contact with, or who others do, and they may need us to be as protected as we can.
Hear me out: I’m exhausted, too. The statistics can be overwhelming, and practicing every COVID-19 regulation possible has proven to be a drag, particularly on a college campus; however, if we stick with it as the new normal, at least for now (because hopefully, some mask regulations will change soon!), following the guidelines can make us more conscientious as individuals and as a community for our friends, fellow students and staff, and others’ friends and families. That way, we can enjoy each other’s company and campus events as soon as possible!
First-year Emily Hanson is a Contributing Writer. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.