By: Daniel Zagoren — Op-Ed Editor
It has been ten and a half months since the coronavirus, a pandemic responsible for the deaths of more than one million people and infecting over 35 million, was first detected in the Gansu Province of China.
The highly contagious virus had spread to Wuhan China, parts of Europe, and North America. Out of the 35 million confirmed cases, there have been 26.7 million recoveries with a mortality rate of 5 percent worldwide and less than 3 percent in the U.S., per The New York Times.
As the United States approaches eleven months since the first confirmed case, there have been nearly 8.28 million cases along with 221 thousand deaths. New daily cases peaked in July, where there was an average of 61,698 new cases per day. Since then, the U.S. has been on a slow and steady decline, with around 39,250 new daily cases throughout the month of September and early October, according to data from The New York Times.
In the United States, where bars, restaurants, and casinos have started to reopen, cases have spiked in some areas of the country as larger groups of people begin to crowd in indoor areas. In the U.S., only five states have closed again after reopening in May and April, but the majority of states are well underway, or have completely re-opened again, despite an increase in case numbers. Many health officials believe that as long as restaurants and other public gathering areas follow universal guidelines, such as enforcing rules for people to wear masks and maintain social distancing, going out in public places can still be done safely.
Thy Uong, a junior at Sharon High School states, “In terms of the entire idea of reopening, we shouldn’t do it at all. Actually, I feel like if we’re going to get over this pandemic the way we want to and as fast as possible, we need to prevent interactions.” Uong says she understands the mental toll of staying at home all day is going to take on people, but we’re starting to begin to create new opportunities to connect with new people online or meet with old friends virtually.
In a case study CDC researchers took on how 314 adults responded to Coronavirus symptoms, they concluded, “reports of exposures in restaurants have been linked to air circulation. Direction, ventilation, and intensity of airflow might affect virus transmission, even if social distancing measures and mask use are implemented according to current guidance.”
Junior Adam Landstein says he thinks restaurants should be able to stay open for outside eating only unless they have extremely limited capacity inside. “Studies have shown that even taking your mask off inside, while you spend eating and the way air flows, you can be infected by someone across the room. It doesn’t really matter if they are so far away, the air can carry over,” added Landstein.
Europe and America are seeing a steady rise in cases as the winter season approaches. Low temperatures and higher wind speeds will likely increase the transmission of the virus. Currently, there have been one million fewer total cases in Europe than the United States, despite Europe having a population that is twice as high as the U.S. and being similar in size.
“People in Europe understand what they need to do. They take it seriously, the crisis has been handled differently in different countries, but nobody in Europe is saying this is a nothing crisis,” said Ilaria Capula, an Italian virologist at the University of Florida.
Landstein says he thinks the U.S. has been irresponsible with their Coronavirus response. “This has become a political issue, you have seen in other countries like New Zealand, despite being a lot smaller, they have followed protocols for responding to pandemics properly and have listened to scientists while the world leaders step aside,” he added. Landstein says there shouldn’t be completely different opinions and skepticism of the scientists and other medical professionals.
Uong says how shops and other public areas are reopening and aren’t taking the obvious steps towards even trying to lessen the cases. “Of course there are the people who are making that effort and taking this seriously by wearing masks, distancing themselves, and simply going out as little as possible, but for as long as we have that little bit of freedom, to say, go shopping with our friends or go have breakfast with them, there’s going to be a risk of spread and because of that it’s going to take us longer to flatten the curve,” she added.