Editorial: The COVID-19 Pandemic is not Over

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For several months, President Trump has minimized the impact of COVID-19 on our country. He has claimed criticism of his administration’s coronavirus procedures to be a hoax, only wears a mask when absolutely necessary and has even gone so far as to mock his opponent Joe Biden during their first debate about wearing a mask, something medical experts recommend.

And on Oct. 2, Trump announced that he and his wife Melania had contracted the coronavirus.

Though he has now been discharged from the hospital and presumably is on the path to recovery, many people who disapprove of Trump’s handling of the pandemic may say he had it coming to him.

To be fair, they wouldn’t be entirely wrong. As health experts have said since the global onset of the virus, the most effective ways to prevent the spread of the virus are to socially distance and to wear a mask. Since Trump has mocked and scoffed at the notion of wearing a mask for months and has held rallies across the nation, he has essentially ignored a majority of the expertise he has received.

Despite being at a higher risk for complications associated with COVID-19 because of his age and weight, Trump has made himself out to the public as invincible in the face of a disease which has claimed the lives of 210,000 Americans. Up until this point, his actions have made it seem as though no one should be concerned about it.

It’s come to bite him in the butt, to be quite frank.

His nonchalance with the COVID-19 pandemic has surely been a contributor to the high number of cases in the U.S. Not only is he responsible for what action has been taken on a national level to combat the virus, he has also been a model — or lack thereof — for how the American people should respond in their personal lives.

For people who look up to Trump and respect him as a president, they have taken his nonchalance to mean that they should protect themselves from COVID-19 in the same way he has, as well as in the same degree. This means not at all.

For those who are more skeptical of Trump’s leadership, they have taken his attitude toward the pandemic with a grain of salt, or condemned it altogether.

Regardless of whether you approve of his presidency, Trump has influenced the way people have responded to the pandemic and how seriously Americans have taken precautions.

Here at Rowan, this presidential nonchalance combined with multiple factors — including the length of the pandemic, having been away from campus since March and not being able to spend time with our friends in a relatively normal capacity since then — have contributed to some students becoming more lax with social distancing protocols and guidelines set forth by the university.

When we first got back to campus this semester, there was a dramatic rise in cases, with 83 new cases reported on- and off-campus during the first two weeks. This can likely be attributed to two things: an increase of residents on- and off-campus and an underlying feeling among students that things were getting back to normal.

With the university climate moving back toward normal, there have been reports of many students hosting parties like they would any other semester. A college party is the epitome of what not to do in a pandemic like this — crowds, people you don’t necessarily know, absence of masks, etc.

Despite these rumored gatherings, the university has responded well to the pandemic. Dr. Deborah Birx, the coronavirus response coordinator for the White House coronavirus task force, visited the Glassboro campus on Oct. 6 and applauded the administration’s efforts against coronavirus spread, giving it one of the highest ratings of all the universities she has toured.

Clearly, some parts of the Rowan community have put more emphasis on maintaining social guidelines during this pandemic.

With President Trump contracting COVID-19 despite his insistence that we shouldn’t be concerned, this can be nothing but a grim warning to those who discount medical experts’ advice and choose to host large gatherings. Just because you haven’t gotten it yet doesn’t mean that you can’t or won’t, Trump’s case has made this quite clear. While you may feel as though you’re missing out on part of the college experience, attending a party with the possibility of spreading or catching the coronavirus isn’t worth the risk.

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