Northwest Missourian Opinion

There has been some relatively encouraging news in recent days when it comes to COVID-19 on a local level. This time last week, the 7-day rolling average of daily positive cases in Nodaway County had dropped by more than half — from 29.43 at the tail end of August to just under 11.71. Now, that figure is down to 5.86. Forthe most part, the number of active on-campus cases has been below the 100 mark since Sept. 6. 

If one were to take a look at Northwest’s COVID-19 tracker, they might say this campus, and the county as a whole, had hit its peak two weeks ago and is now on the decline. Relatively speaking, they’d be right. I’ll tell you right now: getting comfortable is not the thing to do.

Now is not the time to take this pandemic-ridden world we live in lightly. Mask wearing seems to be falling by the wayside, especially in areas where mandates aren’t in place. Everywhere I go, every errand I’ve had to run since being released from quarantine, the fewer face coverings I tend to see. 

To be frank with you, I’m not that surprised, yet I can’t help but be concerned. Even if it’s only for five minutes while running inside the convenience store, one layer of defense is still better than nothing. Cotton masks, like the ones Northwest provided back in August, have a droplet transmission rate of less than one-tenth of a percent. It’s not perfect, but it’s the most effective method we have.

Social distancing is another guideline I’ve noticed less and less of as time progresses. Sure, waiting in line and/or standing 6 feet apart can be a hindrance, but again, it should remain in everyone’s best interest. This isn’t like waiting in a drive-thru line at Mickey D’s, where you have your car to act as a makeshift bubble to take care of that space. Personally, I’ve never been a fan of people standing two inches behind me. Especially in the middle of a pandemic, I’m certainly not going to let it fly now. Keep your personal bubble apart from mine, relax a little and we’ll be just fine.

As far as going on those outdoor walks or jogs, I’m cool with it — and I’m sure most of your neighbors will be, too — so long as, again, you’re leaving ample clearance for those of us just stepping out the front door in a bathrobe to get the morning paper off the driveway. Even if you and I are passing on the sidewalk running from class to class, please do your fellow Bearcat a favor and put your mask on.

Exercising with a tight cotton mask sucks, I get it. As someone who’s so out of shape it’s ridiculous, getting winded is a million times easier with that thing strapped to your nose and mouth. I hate to say it, but wearing one going down the sidewalk, even during your most intense workouts, is your best protection.

Navigating this pandemic hasn’t been easy by any stretch of the imagination. I’m sure 99.9% of Americans would agree. Don’t let it get to your head, but all the precautions you are taking now equal progress. We’re going in the right direction. I cannot encourage you enough to keep at it. The more we do now, the fewer pieces we’ll have to pick up down the road. Continue to do your part, Bearcats, and do it well. An entire community is counting on you.

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