/The future of COVID-19 policies

The future of COVID-19 policies

Despite record numbers of cases and a second wave of infections, people continue to disregard the importance of COVID-19 safety precautions. With the virus spreading more quickly than at the beginning of the pandemic, it’s a strange thing to see people suggesting that we should lift any forms of COVID-19 guidelines. Instead, additional safety measures should be put in place, like more aggressive contact-tracing, universal mask-wearing and limiting social gatherings.  

COVID-19 hasn’t gone away, no matter how much anyone tries to convince themselves. Instead, the pandemic is worsening and it isn’t stopping.  

America has now reached over 9.3 million cases and has surpassed 230,000 deaths. For the fifth time since Oct. 22, a new record of daily cases was set, with almost 100,000 cases on Oct. 30. America now has the record for the most cases recorded in a single day out of any other country. Those 100,000 cases will directly translate into the number of deaths we see in the upcoming weeks of November.  

It’s not just in America that we see increasingly worrisome COVID-19 numbers. Europe is currently facing a second wave of the virus. Countries across Europe, including Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, the U.K., among others, have reported their highest daily cases since the pandemic has started. 

Some have claimed the increased numbers of cases can be attributed to increased testing, but it’s not entirely true. The rate at which tests come back positive in some countries has also increased. In Belgium, the positivity rate rose from 2% in September to 18% in October.  

The increase of COVID-19 cases can be directly linked to the lack of government response. The American government’s lack of a response is what allowed the 230,000 deaths we now have.  

A House of Representatives subcommittee released a report on Oct. 30 that collected information since April on the Trump administration’s response to the pandemic. The report made a series of statements on how the virus continues to be a global issue and outlines the complete failure that the government has had in adequately responding to the virus.  

Rep. James Clyburn, the subcommittee’s chair, stated, “While we cannot bring back the more than 225,000 Americans we have lost to this disease, I hope that this report will serve as a wake-up call to make the improvements needed to prevent further unnecessary deaths and deprivation that will occur if the response continues on its current course.”  

The COVID-19 response from the University of Montevallo has been one of the better responses in the state. With schools like the University of Alabama and Auburn University having more than 2,000 cases each, UM is doing alright. However, the 105 reported cases could drastically rise if the University changes its current policies on COVID-19.  

Currently, UM follows the Falcon Forward plan, which outlines a clear response to the pandemic. Before the spring semester, self-administer tests will be distributed to all students who plan to attend in-person classes or use on-campus facilities. 

Additionally, UM has implemented mandatory masks in all public areas on campus, mandatory social distancing and a mandatory education course through Canvas. Students who come into close contact with someone who has tested positive will be quarantined for 14 days. Other policies are outlined in the Falcon Forward plan. 

Among the policies stated above, one approach that has been frequently talked about among students is a residence hall rule. Visitors are currently not allowed in residence halls, but a petition to reduce restrictions for visitation in residence halls has been signed by over 250 people. The petition claims that there is little evidence that current residence hall policies mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

However, plainly put, less exposure will always mean fewer cases. Mental health and the ability to see your friends is obviously important, particularly now in the middle of a global pandemic. But when it comes to the actual lives of students, we have to have our priorities straight. Students are still able to see each other outside of their dorms.  

Not allowing visitors in residence halls protects the students who hardly leave their rooms. If the University allows visitors in the dorms, there will be an increase in exposure, and there will be an increase in cases. Instead of trying to monitor students on campus, the University should focus on the students who break the current COVID-19 protocols, on-campus or not.  

The pandemic has proved challenging for everyone, but if people continue to ignore the current guidelines, we will continue to see a rise in cases, a rise in deaths, and it will get worse.  

It may seem like a good idea to allow students into residence halls so that they are properly monitored, but it’s not going to stop them from continuing to be exposed outside of those dorms. 

I want this pandemic to be over as much as anyone else, but that means continuing to follow rules that we do not like. It means sacrificing our comfort to ensure the lives of others.  

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Xander Swain is the copy editor for The Alabamian. He is majoring in political science, environmental studies, and sociology and wants to eventually obtain a Ph.D. in sociology. He enjoys cooking for his friends, listening to music and taking long walks on the beach.