For college students, Halloween is the highlight of the year. It’s no secret that most of us spend this holiday dressing up, partying and getting wasted. Unlike every other year, this year will have consequences. Not because of the deadly hangovers, but because of the deadly virus. I know I sound like a cop, but let's be honest: college students cannot go without partying. That’s why several universities around the nation have closed down and gone fully remote. I doubt this article will stop anybody from partying, but I do want to outline the detrimental effects that you could be a seed to if you don’t take this pandemic seriously.
On Sept. 1, before the semester started and on-campus students moved in, the Mecklenburg County Health Department notified the university of an off-campus cluster of eight students. Logically speaking, that number could have exponentially increased as off and on-campus moving has continued. It hasn’t even been a full two weeks since in-person classes have started and we already have a potential COVID-19 outbreak. The University sent out a Niner Notice on Oct. 5 explaining that COVID-19 was detected in the wastewaters of a particular residence hall. WSOCTV found Holshouser Hall to be the infected dorm. The notice further explains that “the University has since completed 155 COVID-19 tests of students and staff in the impacted area. Based on the tests, the positivity rate is less than 1%, and no clusters were found.” They are still continuing to contact-trace and monitor the wastewaters around campus.
Before and after the University went into session, we have already observed multiple cases. According to the UNC Charlotte COVID-19 dashboard, from Sept. 7 to Oct. 4, there were 53 positive cases. What makes college students think that others or themselves will be immune when going out during the biggest party season of the year?
The World Health Organization states that “the coronavirus pandemic is now being driven by people in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who don’t know they are infected.” We go out as if there was never a pandemic, hence the surging increase in cases after spring break earlier this year. Having no symptoms doesn’t mean that you don’t have COVID-19, it could just mean that you have an asymptomatic case. According to Medical News Today, “A preliminary study suggests that more than 80% of people aged 20 and under may show no symptoms after contracting SARS-CoV-2.” You could be COVID-19 positive and not know or you could be surrounding yourself with people who are unaware that they are positive. Partying has caused schools in our very own state to shut down. East Carolina, UNC Chapel Hill and NC State had all taken precautions to reopening schools, and students wanting to party caused these schools to shut down. ABC 11 reported on Aug. 12 that East Carolina Police had to shut down about 20 parties in one night, one of them with nearly 400 students.
A student from Appalachian State passed away due to COVID-19 complications. The Appalachian State SGA released a statement saying, “Our actions affect so many more people than ourselves, and it is important for us to remember that just because we cannot see the impact of our actions, they are still there.”
You are not invincible and it won’t hurt to miss out on an annual holiday this year. You could infect students who have underlying conditions that you never knew about, or you could infect people of different age groups that are more vulnerable than you are. UNC Charlotte is going above and beyond with their reopening guidelines after observing the outcomes of many neighboring universities. They started class later than most universities and made it online for three weeks. After reopening schools, they haven’t failed to enforce safety measures such as social distancing. They have only reopened campus to a select number of courses, they have made a pandemic kit to provide to every student and they even have a protocol to quarantine students that have been exposed to or infected by COVID-19. In addition to the contact tracing and Niner Health Checks, Dr.Gibas of the College of Computing and Informatics has been leading a study to test wastewaters all over campus to detect potential COVID-19 infections to see if it has reached students. So take the Niner Pledge and actually stand by it.
And if you have already gotten COVID-19, I have some news for you. There is a chance of reinfection. According to Stat News, there have already been several cases of reinfection in Belgium, Netherlands, Hong Kong, and the United States in Nevada. What I’m trying to say is, you are not immune.
I enjoy partying too, and Halloween is the best time for it. However, we are in the middle of a pandemic of an airborne virus. It is selfish to even think about partying while cases and deaths have been increasing. According to the Mecklenburg County COVID-19 Data Releases, Mecklenburg County has the highest number of cases in the state. We should be smart and not contribute to this statistic. Follow the safety guidelines: monitor your health and symptoms, get tested, wash your hands, social distance six feet apart, and wear a mask. Remember that it won’t kill you to miss Halloween as much as the virus could kill you.