Spencer Hall '23
Over the course of 2020, one factor has been a constant burden: COVID-19. It has caused every type of inconvenience imaginable. The virus has also created new norms of Zoom calls, staying home, and wearing masks. While I was eating inside of a restaurant for the first time in months, I felt out of place sitting at the table because I’d gotten so used to takeout and UberEats. This new norm that we all are adapting to has been hard to adjust to. However, there is still reason to hope amidst all of the unrest caused by the virus.
The most promising development that has occurred over the summer is that nation-wide case numbers are finally decreasing. Although test rates are decreasing as well, the steeper drop in case numbers does prove that the health situation in the United States is improving. Along with case numbers, positive test rates and hospitalizations are dropping as well. These decreases seem to have occurred because of President Trump’s endorsement of masks, creating a nationally unified message about their importance . In doing this, Trump has given people, most importantly skeptics of the virus, a reason to listen to the messages that the CDC has been broadcasting to the public for months. Hopefully, folks hesitant to comply with health guidelines will continue to follow Trump's example, allowing for cases to drop even lower than their current numbers.
While Trump’s administration has been bashed for the seemingly exponential growth of cases and deaths in the United States since the pandemic began, it has begun to take action in order to reopen schools as safely as possible. While reopening schools needs to be done in a cautious manner as to not allow for cases to rise again, individuals benefit from being among their peers and teachers. The connections among peers and with teachers is something that cannot be replicated through a computer screen, as students are more motivated to learn and can better learn from those around them while in person . These benefits have led the administration to pledge to ship 150 million rapid tests, which yield results in as little as 15 minutes, by the middle of this month. These tests, according to Admiral Brett Giroir, assistant secretary for health at the Department of Health and Human Services, detects positive cases accurately 97% of the time, a figure that will help public health officials sleep at night . This promising pledge, coupled with the fact that vaccines for the virus are entering higher phases of testing, provides a sense of promise that students who are attending school virtually, including us on the close, may soon be able to attend school in a fuller capacity.
Finally, 172 countries are currently discussing participating in the COVAX initiative with the aim of distributing vaccine doses to both developed and developing countries. It is imperative to deliver doses to the poorer nations of the world because it is these populations which would have a difficult road to funding independent vaccine research. Through the COVAX Advance Market Commitment, 92 lower and middle income economies will participate in the initiative without economic stress, which currently possesses the most diverse vaccine portfolio, consisting of nine vaccines with another nine currently being evaluated. Of the nine vaccines that are currently a part of COVAX’s portfolio, seven have reached clinical trials, inching ever more closely to releasing one for public use . This development marks a true global commitment to slowing the spread of COVID-19, an effort that has been long overdue. The quicker a vaccine can be used by the general public, the quicker we may be able to return to some sense of normalcy in the future.
Despite the constant negativity surrounding us in the news and media, there are causes for hope. The national health situation is improving overall, and the world is coming together to find a way to subdue this virus. All in all, the circumstances we find ourselves in are what you make of them. Amidst the pandemic and restrictions, enjoy and appreciate the opportunities to see and connect with people, and find ways to see the light during these dark times.