Observing social distance remains critical for U.S.

Posted May 18, 2020

Next fall will be my last semester in college. After that, my formal education will be over, but it doesn’t mean I’ll stop learning. I hope to return to the UW-River Falls campus in September to see my friends again, chat with my professors and enjoy the time left before I graduate.

However, I have to prepare for the reality that returning to campus for classes is questionable at best for the fall. It doesn’t seem right that the last time I was in a college classroom was 10 a.m. on Friday the 13th in March. I was sitting in the third row in my political philosophy class with Lecturer Christopher Simer. The only way that kind of experience can happen again for me is if Americans stop acting selfish and think about the consequences of breaking the rules of social distancing too early.

As I write this note, the total number of Americans that have died from COVID-19 is greater than 80,000. That is more Americans dead over the span of three months than the combined number of Americans who died in the Vietnam War and 9/11 combined. So why are we not all taking this pandemic seriously as a nation as we did the Vietnam War and the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks? The death toll is catastrophic for such a short period of time. How many more Americans have to die before people take this pandemic seriously?

I am grateful for the men and women on the frontlines of the pandemic working hard to save as many lives as possible. I hope that someday in the near future they will be able to return to their homes and their families safely, without fear of spreading the virus to their loved ones. If we allow ourselves to give up social distancing too soon, the longer these healthcare workers will be away from their families and homes.

We all want things to get back to the way they were as soon as possible. But the fact is things will never be the same once the pandemic is over. The return to campus this fall is what I want as a college student, to be able to finish my degree and enjoy my last semester to the fullest. Yet, if I have to make the sacrifice to remain home so more Americans do not lose their lives needlessly to this virus, I am more than willing to do that.

COVID-19 will go away eventually, but only if we keep our distance from one another. This is not asking too much. So, for the time being read the books you’ve been putting off, stream a film or a TV show even if you don’t think you’ll like it. Do anything to pass the time, but don’t get into a rut that results in your risking yourself and others just to have some fun. We will get through this as one nation; let’s not let common sense and lies divide us politically when it comes to keeping as many Americans alive as possible.