Imagine not being able to breathe. Your lungs fill with fluid, even as a million tubes seem to protrude from your body. And there’s just one thing you keep thinking to yourself: “If only I would have worn my mask correctly.”
“If” is a two-letter word that makes your insides churn. It makes people wonder what they could have done and wish to have done better. “If” you wear your mask, “if” do your part, then hopefully, things can return to normal.
Campus is not a place to dissociate from the COVID “if”. There are too many lives at stake not to take the pandemic seriously.
The Center for Disease Control states that the United States alone has lost over 650,000 people to COVID-19 in the past year. Out of that, almost 10,000 of those individuals have been Mississippians. Even today, the Mississippi Department of Health reports that Mississippi has been averaging 2,500 COVID cases per day, which is still enough to keep the general masses concerned.
Yes, masks are incredibly uncomfortable, but they are vital in this fight against COVID-19. It may feel bad to wear a mask in class for a few hours, but it could save numerous lives. The Mayo Clinic reports that face masks can stop the spread of COVID up to six feet away from the nearest person. Therefore, wearing a face mask greatly decreases the odds of one catching COVID.
Lately, campus events have been difficult to attend due to students violating the mask policy. Many events are held outside, yes, but students should still follow precautions put in place by school officials. They should not, say, have the opportunity to huddle in a big group without having their masks on. Masks have proven to be effective, and therefore should be still worn at all school events. And yet, numerous events have ended with crowds of students in the middle of venues dancing without masks on or anywhere in sight.
Not all of this is the university’s fault. As students, it is our job to do our part to stop the spread of COVID as well. We are still in an age dominated by pandemic unknowns. No one should have to tell you to put your mask on. No one should have to tell you to socially distance. At this point, it should be a common courtesy.
Think about those around you or even your loved ones. There may be individuals who are immunocompromised around you on campus or in your immediate family. Think about the risk you’re taking by taking off your mask around a large number of people. Their chances of catching COVID cases have possibly gone up because you decided to take off your mask due to it being “uncomfortable”.
Following these safety precautions will also ensure that the rest of the school year is in person. If the university begins to have too many COVID-19 cases, this semester will most likely end like the last: at home. Many students have expressed in the past couple of weeks how much they like having in-person classes. Unfortunately, if the campus shuts down again, students will be forced to go home to once again complete the school year behind a computer screen.
Wearing masks is a reality of both the world today and the immediate future. Of course everyone wants the pandemic to go away, but we must take part in the preventive measures put in place for a reason: to keep the spread of COVID-19 down.
College-aged students are setting the standard for future generations of this country. The time to take a stance against COVID is now or never. We need to keep fighting it until it is completely gone, even if that means wearing masks for a few more months.