Don’t Give Up Now: The Case for Covid Precautions

Alexander Voses

Every day it seems we’ve hit a new landmark—most infections, most hospitalizations, most deaths—as the COVID-19 pandemic marches on. Experts have predicted that by April we will reach over 550,000 deaths. As a nation we are battling an invisible killer stalking our streets. But let’s take a moment to zoom in past national, state, and even county borders. Our community is hurting. Despite the fact that Great Neck as a whole is on the right track, recently being removed from the list of “yellow zones,” almost every day new cases are still being reported by our schools. I believe we can put a stop to this and do our part as a school community if we band together and decide that our most vulnerable are worth protecting and that needless risks must be mitigated. We need to remember that we are not alone in this world and that everyone should exercise a modicum of self-sacrifice for the greater good.

COVID has had a very specific impact on students that I’m sure many of you can personally relate to. Many of us spend upwards of nine hours a day on Zoom calls in front of our computers. We have been forced apart from freely interacting with our friends and teachers, especially when we are at our closest six feet apart. Gone are the opportunities for colloquial banter between classmates, either because it is physically impossible from home or because of a subdued school atmosphere. Gone are the days of laughing as an entire class at one of our teacher’s entertaining stories, with part of the class in person and part of the class on a screen. We are fortunate our school district has implemented precautions to mitigate the spread of COVID within school buildings to allow in-person learning. We are equally fortunate that we have access to quality online learning that allows students like me, with at-risk family members, to learn from home. One thing is certain: we will never return to “normal life” until everyone contributes to eradicating this virus once and for all.

We just passed through, and are still experiencing the effects of, a “dark winter,” as some have taken to calling the recent holiday season—a fitting title for the end of a wretched year, but not a title I had hoped would carry into 2021. Why should this spring see us in the same position we were in last March? Some people still choose to not wear masks and to hold gatherings with extended family from different regions with higher case counts. Large gatherings where mask-wearing is ignored have been directly linked to a staggeringly high number of cases. Students in particular gather with friends without giving heed to the consequences of their actions. I completely understand the urge to gather with friends as though things were normal. All of our lives have been thrown into turmoil and enjoying time with friends is perhaps one of the strongest known remedies to our collective stress. There is, however, a solution to this dilemma that requires extremely little and is safe and effective at mitigating, or eliminating, the risk of COVID spreading. 

When gathering with a friend or a group of friends, wear a mask and maintain a safe distance. These are really small deeds that could save someone’s life—someone who is obviously at risk, or perhaps someone you would never expect. It is also an easy way to protect yourself. The CDC has stated that masks protect not only those around the wearer, but the wearer as well. So not only are you protecting your community, but also yourself and your own family. The truth is that these little respectful actions really add up. Even if it’s just for a brief conversation outside, wear a mask. If you’re walking with a friend, wear a mask. If you’re seeing family, wear a mask. This is such a simple action that can have such an incredible impact.

As I am writing this article, a ray of hope has shined through: vaccines have begun to be distributed. This makes me hopeful, but also concerned. As has been stated more times than I can count, “it is a vaccine, not a cure.” Hope may be on the horizon, but that is just as much reason to fight even harder than ever before. We cannot grow lax in our commitment and be lulled into a false sense of victory. This is still a long term battle and there is a lot of work left to be done. Granted the vaccine will ease some of the burden, but not all. Our healthcare providers, who deserve nothing but our collective respect and gratitude, will still be fighting just as hard, so we have to as well. 

I hope that after reading this article you will consider your actions and, if need be, make small adjustments for the benefit of our community. I am extremely proud of and grateful for our community, and I know we can do better. So please, wear a mask, save someone’s life, and give our healthcare professionals the enormous amount of respect that they deserve for putting themselves on the frontline. I don’t think this is much to ask, in fact it is an objectively small request, but, no matter how small, this action can have massive consequences: a life saved, a family with a full table next year, a return to the normalcy that we have all been sorely missing.