Providence is not facing a matter of if, this is a matter of when. COVID-19 is ripping across the world and has proven to be much more infectious than we thought. According to Michael Osterholm Ph.D. M.P.H, infectious disease expert “Just breathing the air near someone who's infected makes this challenging, It does spread through the air and so, even if you are more than 6 feet away from someone, the virus is very contagious." Not only that but “Based on transmission trends in China, the virus could infect 20-60% of the U.S. population over the next 6-12 months.” The good news is Providence has installed new hand sanitizer stations because the best way to stop a highly infectious airborne disease is to keep your hands clean… right. Sarcasm aside, COVID-19 is going to infect Loyola. Saying otherwise is blatantly wrong. The biggest choice the administration has to make is whether or not they are willing to wait for a positive result, possibly exposing hundreds of students to COVID-19; or whether we want to be proactive and close down as soon as possible. The policy of “business as usual” is foolish, ask Italy, China, and Iran. While they twiddled their thumbs and waited, more and more people became infected, eventually overrunning their healthcare systems, and forcing Italy to completely shut the country down.
The CDC even recognizes that we won't be able to stop the spread. According to their website “More cases of COVID-19 are likely to be identified in the United States in the coming days, including more instances of community spread. It’s likely that at some point, widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States will occur. Widespread transmission of COVID-19 would translate into large numbers of people needing medical care at the same time. Schools, childcare centers, and workplaces, may experience more absenteeism. Mass gatherings may be sparsely attended or postponed. Public health and healthcare systems may become overloaded, with elevated rates of hospitalizations and deaths. Other critical infrastructure, such as law enforcement, emergency medical services, and sectors of the transportation industry may also be affected. Healthcare providers and hospitals may be overwhelmed.” While this is a bleak outlook, Providence can do its part in slowing the infection by ceasing in-person classes, to at the very least limit peer to peer transmission. We should follow in the footsteps of high schools like Harvard Westlake, and Campbell Hall; and colleges like UCLA, USC, UC Santa Cruz, UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, San Jose State, San Francisco State, Santa Clara, Princeton, Ohio State, and Vanderbilt; and even the NBA.
I understand that as a student, there are a large number of things occurring behind the scenes that I am unaware of and that there are people a lot smarter than me making extremely difficult decisions; however, this is a time in which immediate action is necessary. I have personally had to reconcile with the fact that I could very likely become infected, and possibly infect an at-risk relative. Having to worry about potentially putting someone close to me at risk is something no high schooler should ever have to think about. We very likely won't be able to stop the spread COVID-19 virus, but if we can do our part as pioneers, we might just be able to prevent the spread, keeping ourselves, families, and communities safe.