It’s no secret that we all wish things this semester were different. We want to see our friends' faces unobscured by masks, hug each other and be close. We’d rather be in Saint Rob’s, U-Hall or Pereira than be in front of a Zoom screen. We want to cheer on our teams in Gersten, soak up the sun on Sunken Gardens and at least pretend to study in the library. We all had hope that our fall semester would arrive and that everything could return to normal.
But the fall semester we wanted is not the one we were dealt, and COVID-19 is an even bigger problem in California now than it was in March – especially for people our age.
Right now, adults ages 18-49 make up 60% of the cases in Los Angeles, according to the LA Times. If you compare this information to the data from March, when the majority of people contracting the virus were ages 50 and up, it’s clear that young people are driving the spread of COVID-19 in Los Angeles.
As Los Angeles attempts to recover from the second surge of cases in June, the fall semester for universities in southern California threatens a third spike. In late July, the University of Southern California (USC) dealt with an outbreak of cases amongst students that was fueled by houses on the university’s fraternity row.
“Unless all of us understand that right now our only tools are physical distancing and wearing masks, we’re going to continue to have devastation, not only in terms of the economy, our learning, our academics, our jobs, but people dying,” said Dr. Sarah Van Orman, USC’s chief student health officer, in the article.
“Each of us have to decide what we stand for. Frats need to do that as well.”
Without following the state guidelines, we could potentially reverse much of the work that health care workers and state officials continue to do in order to keep us safe. Data shows that August was the deadliest month for COVID-19 in California. As students return to their living situations in L.A., it’s important to keep this in mind. People are still dying, and as young people with the potential to spread the virus, a lot of responsibility rests on us.
Even if we are sick of social distancing and all the precautions, our response should not mirror those who took to partying. Rather, as difficult as it might seem, we should continue to abide by health and safety rules and be patient. If not for yourself, your classmates or your spring semester, do it for your fellow Angelenos who are being disproportionately impacted by COVID-19:.
As students not following the suggested (and often required) guidelines laid out by the CDC and local government, we are behaving in uniquely destructive and selfish ways. By studying at a private university, most of us have privileges that large sectors of the population do not have. For many of us, housing, financial security and other basic necessities do not rely on our being employed at essential jobs. Many of us are not required to expose ourselves to the virus in order to make ends meet, unlike many essential job workers.
When our only job is to do our course work and social distance, flagrantly breaking requested public health practices is selfish. For those of us who are fortunate enough to live as just students, being irresponsible directly places essential workers and our fellow working classmates in danger.
Like USC, other schools across the country have seen outbreaks of COVID-19 after the start of their fall semesters. With our own fall semester finally starting this week, LMU students have the opportunity to avoid a large outbreak. We have the opportunity to take a stand and not add to the growing number of cases that have broken out in college communities.