The student body recently received an email from Drew’s administration reminding us of the need to remain vigilant in dealing with the Coronavirus pandemic. This email follows one received last week during Thursday’s “Spring Break Day” reminding us to maintain six-feet social distancing and mask-wearing. It is likely that the administration is reaching out to us as a result of Drew’s recent uptick in cases, which have risen to over six times the amount they were at two weeks ago, from just 3 to 19. It is likely that the nicer weather combined with a certain amount of lockdown fatigue have contributed to this increase in cases, so now is a good time to reflect on the state of the pandemic.
Compared to where we were a year ago today, when there was a greater amount of uncertainty and fear, the end of the pandemic is certainly in sight. As of March 16, between the three approved vaccines (Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson), the U.S. is now administering 2.4 million doses daily, totalling over 116 million doses so far. New Jersey is one of the states which is most efficiently vaccinating residents, with 26 percent having received one dose and 13.5 percent having been fully vaccinated.
Achieving herd immunity is key for returning to normalcy, with health officials estimating that between 60 to 80 percent of the population requires immunity to do so (roughly 230 million Americans). While this sounds like a high hurdle to jump, we are actually much closer than one might think. So far, around 30 million cases of Covid have been diagnosed, meaning that when combined with undiagnosed cases and asymptomatic cases it is likely that around 90 million Americans have been infected so far. Combining those who have been exposed to Covid-19 with those who have been vaccinated, and if we continue at the current rate of vaccination, optimistic projections predict herd immunity by sometime in April.
For many of us who have been locked down for over a year, or those of us putting their lives on hold to protect themselves, vulnerable family members and friends, this is undoubtedly good news. It means a return to normal life, an ability to see friends and family, a return to in-person classes and work and no longer living our lives through Zoom. Still, a final note of concern—while herd immunity may be just around the corner, we must remain committed to preventative measures. With the weather getting nicer and pandemic precautions growing tiring, the temptation to ignore Covid measures is alluring. However, the cost of ignoring such measures could be the lives of family, friends or even our own. Normalcy is around the corner, and the path to get here has taken a toll on us all in different ways, so it is best to continue following guidelines rather than ignore our responsibility to the Forest and our other communities.