Wed. Oct 21st, 2020

The Blue & Gray Press

The University of Mary Washington Student Newspaper

America needs a mandatory quarantine

4 min read

Trump continues to downplay the severity of COVID-19. (Alex Brandon | AP)

by ALEXA GATHOF

Staff Writer

In the short time since the discovery of the first COVID-19 case in Washington state, statistics have risen to top those of China and Italy. The expected next step for the United States is to implement a mandatory quarantine, minus essential personnel. However, President Trump has stepped away from issuing a mandatory quarantine by passing the responsibility of this big decision to governments at the state level. This is the exact opposite of what should be happening.

We need a national mandatory quarantine.

While our entire generation is not doomed, I do think there is a severe lack of underestimating on the severity of COVID-19. I’ve seen it first hand since I work at an “essential” store. Day after day, I see hundreds of people swarm my store in hopes of grabbing up the last bits of toilet paper or the elusive hand sanitizer. And, inevitably, they just end up hanging around the aisles together. The introduction of social distancing, maintaining a perimeter of six feet between you and others, especially those who are ill, and limiting outings to only basic, essential needs, has become commonplace in a lot of businesses in the hopes of minimizing contact with the virus, but has been heavily ignored by young Americans.

From what I have seen, the past few weeks Americans have already been disregarding CDC recommendations and relaxing of emphasis on the danger of COVID-19 to the general public is going to do more harm than good.

Many young Americans blatantly ignored the CDC’s recommendation to limit all non-essential outings, travels and meetings. For example, just look at the spring break migration to Florida. In late February, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, had issued warnings to not overcrowd beaches at the risk of having a hot spot for COVID-19 cases to emerge. Thousands of high school and college students ignored those warnings and the worst-case scenario happened: Florida is now home to 7,773 confirmed coronavirus cases.

I get it. I’m 23 and practicing social distancing is the exact opposite of what I want to do, especially now that classes are online and the weather is peaking in the 70s and 80s. However, while I may spend a lot of time looking out my window daydreaming about a tropical getaway in between Animal Crossing and my new regimen of 30 meals a day, it’s important to understand why practicing social distancing is important especially right now.

I spoke with my roommate, Dominic Rosa, a junior majoring in business administration and philosophy major, on the issue. “It’s a very scary situation we are in. On one hand, our economy wasn’t meant to just shut down like this. The way we have structured it, it can’t just afford to shut down. Some households survive only check-by-check, so they need to work. However, on the other hand, a quarantine would allow us to flatten the curve and stop the spreading. I don’t know, it’s also just frustrating because our country should have been more prepared to protect its citizens. All we can do is try to stay home as much as possible and limit giant crowd interactions.”

As many of us know, a high percentage of those with COVID-19 are asymptomatic for the entirety of the sickness or don’t show symptoms for at least two weeks. However, this is not the same for the elderly or those with underlying health conditions. So even if you don’t live with someone who is heavily susceptible to the virus, if you ignore precautions of social distancing when you go out to grab food or to a grocery store, you are still risking spreading the disease to others around you.
And, if the virus continues to spread and hospitals are overwhelmed, they will not have the resources or personnel to treat all patients of all age groups, not just those who have the coronavirus.

No matter how we feel about the quarantine, we must understand that it is the most logical step to take next. With numbers rising every day, we can no longer invalidate the severity of COVID-19, so please, for the sake of those around you, stay home and keep safe.

With the news of the additional month added to our soft quarantine, I feel a little conflicted. I work for an essential store so there is not much of a change for me. It is just another month wherein the outside is basically on lockdown. With this extra month, though, comes hope. Maybe this extra month will halt the spread of the virus and allow us to get back to normal, maybe with a newfound appreciation for our ability to travel and meet freely.

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