We’re now nearing a year of the COVID-19 pandemic. In a few weeks it will have been a full year since the initial lockdowns of the pandemic that were marketed as “two weeks to stop the spread.” It became quickly apparent that things were more serious than they initially seemed, and while we have now adapted to circumstances fairly well, the toll on the country has been grave. With vaccine distribution having steadily increased since December and January, a return to “normalcy” seems within reach. Schools are reopening for in-person learning, around 1.5 million people are being vaccinated daily, and new cases are falling since peaking in mid-January.
However, we are not out of the woods yet. The months ahead rely on strict adherence to local, state, and federal guidelines on how to behave. Social distancing and mask-wearing will continue to be necessary at least until between 70 and 90 percent of the population is vaccinated (around 248 million people) so that herd immunity begins to take effect. Large gatherings should be avoided still, especially on Drew’s and other college campuses nationwide, where many people have the potential to be in close contact with each other.
Keeping this in mind though, there is plenty to look forward to. Vaccinations will not only keep people safe, but will also provide peace of mind to many families who have elderly or immunocompromised members—many of whom have been hypervigilant for over 11 months now. Friends can once again begin seeing each other and feel more comfortable and relaxed about doing so, especially if they are vaccinated or regularly tested for Covid (as we are here on campus). Businesses will be able to reopen to a greater degree, relieving many small business owners of financial strains that have been imposed on them by government-mandated lockdowns. Schools are also in the process of beginning to reopen, allowing students to receive the superior in-person learning and increased social interaction they so desperately need.
If we stay committed to measures backed by science, like social distancing and masks, vaccinations and hard work by medical workers will soon allow us to transition back to pre-COVID levels of social interaction, travel, and many aspects of life we once took for granted. The end is in sight.