It’s no secret that COVID-19 cases have grown recently here at Berry. Hundreds of students have been in quarantine, and all of us will be tested again within the next week. Unfortunately, it is now a fact of life that people we know will have been exposed to or potentially contracted COVID-19. You may have been one of these people. Your attitude towards these people both during and after their isolation or quarantine is important to keep in mind.
People who have contracted the virus have gone through an experience unlike any other. Some may not have experienced any symptoms while others symptoms may have been mild, and still others may have battled a fever. They have gone through a lot, and after returning to school, we should be mindful of how we act around them. There is an unconscious stigma in our minds that we may still get COVID-19 from them even after they have recovered.
The best way to combat this stigma is education and conversation. Talk to your friends about their experience and the process that it involved. While they are not alone in their experience during the pandemic, they may have gone through something that you haven’t. Learn from them and prevent yourself and others from going through the same thing.
If you are someone who has tested positive or been quarantined, talk to your friends and be aware that the stigma is out there. The best way to deal with it is by having open and honest communication.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stigma only creates fear and distracts us from the actual disease. The CDC also says that stigma can cause people to be afraid to report symptoms and can stop them from getting tested. So essentially, falling victim to the stigma can cause COVID-19 to spread even more.
As we all know, recently many athletes have tested positive for COVID-19. This has created a stigma that it is the athletes’ fault. However, this is not the case. The athletes were following the practice restrictions, it just so happened that cases rose as they shared social circles. The fact that they are athletes is simply a coincidence. It could have been any group. It is also not Berry’s fault, either. After seeing the spike in cases, Berry chose to suspend practices and review protocols. Administration is adjusting, and we need to follow suit. Moving forward we need to be sure to not discriminate against athletes or accuse them for causing an outbreak.
Tracing SARS-Cov-2 is extremely difficult due to carriers without symptoms. It could be impossible to determine the origin of an outbreak because of that. It is also important to recognize that at any point, any of us could have COVID-19 without symptoms. That is why the campus-wide testing is vital to staying at Berry and preventing a larger outbreak. The “We all wear because we care” campaign that Berry has launched defines the parameters that must be met to remain on campus. We all need to wear our masks not because we have to, but because we want to protect ourselves and others from the COVID-19 virus. If we only wear the masks and follow social distancing guidelines because we have to, then there will be weaknesses. If we do not care, there is no incentive to always follow these guidelines, and the COVID-19 spread will continue and worsen.
Follow the quarantine restrictions. Isolate or quarantine for the full 14-day period, and tell others about your experience so they will know what it was like and how to avoid isolation and quarantine. Imagine spending 14 days stuck in your dorm room or back at home. It doesn’t sound very fun or exciting, does it?
The good news is that we all have a choice. We can choose to care and prevent the COVID-19 spread on campus. Imagine if we all followed every guideline and precaution. Maybe we could reduce the number of positive cases to less than ten in a two week period. Imagine what we could do if we all cared. We’d be unstoppable.