Response to Opinion: Letter to DePaul, don’t return to online learning
As a student, as someone who survived Covid, and as a human being, I feel compelled to respond to the recent opinion piece by Dace Potas, which was published in the DePaulia. Potas repeatedly made broad claims about DePaul’s response to Covid, based entirely on fabricated ideals of personal responsibility and a complete lack of understanding of the consequences associated with ignoring the very real threat Covid has posed to our community over the past two years.
Potas bases his most recent argument on the low fatality rates among young people, without acknowledging the grey area between death and surviving without long-term consequences. Those who have actually experienced Covid are no stranger to this undeniable fact, when Covid can lead to long-term breathing issues, heart problems, kidney damage, neurologic problems, mental health issues and more. Up to 60 percent of those who have had COVID show signs of ongoing heart inflammation. Fixating on fatality rates is not only offensive to the families of the over 800,000 Americans who have died thus far, but shows a brazen disregard for the wellbeing of those still struggling — considering the long-term implications of the disease remain unknown.
Potas has previously taken issue with DePaul’s vaccine mandate and now uses it as evidence that we don’t need to shut down for two weeks, however, the data that has been released so far suggests that some vaccines are less effective against this variant. Even if vaccines are able to keep severe illness at bay, the omicron variant has been proven to be more transmissible. As such, refusing to implement preventative measures could result in widespread illness, leading to broad sections of the student population in quarantine either for illness or exposure. Furthermore, widespread transmission is almost guaranteed to overwhelm our medical system. Currently, only 10 percent of staffed ICU beds are available statewide in Illinois. Personal responsibility does not apply to situations that affect society as a whole.
It’s a misunderstanding of disease transmission to claim that choosing to be unvaccinated, not wear a mask or return to in person classes only affects the person making that decision. The reality is taking this type of personal risk leads to community spread of the virus. These decisions also aren’t made solely for what Potas refers to as “fully healthy students,” but with an understanding of the larger implications of the entire DePaul community returning to campus in the middle of a pandemic. These decisions affect a much larger community, including students with health concerns, faculty, staff and the larger communities outside of the university that students belong to.
No one wants to go back to remote classes, myself included. However, I acknowledge the current conditions of the pandemic and understand the logic behind DePaul’s decision to move the first two weeks of winter quarter online. I take issue with anyone who blatantly disregards facts and the damage Covid has done, especially by minimizing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in the U.S. as an insignificant fatality rate. I also take issue with the implication that Covid is a black and white issue of either death or complete recovery.