It has been just over a year since the first cases of the coronavirus were reported in the United States, and precautions to slow the spread of the virus have permeated daily life.
Mask-wearing, social distancing, and limitations of in-person gatherings have become standard, and the intensity of the second wave of COVID-19 seems to have abated at least somewhat.
Here at Capital, it was announced Monday that residence hall visitation would be allowed between campus residents. In an email, Jon Geyer stated that the decision was reached because the positivity rate of university surveillance testing has remained below 2 percent, and that the policy may be revisited if cases spike again.
A look at Capital’s COVID-19 Testing Dashboard reveals that cases among Capital students have remained low for the spring semester. In the last two weeks (Jan. 31 and Feb. 7), a total of almost a thousand students have been tested, and only one positive case was reported. As of Feb. 14, only four students remained in quarantine, with two in isolation.
In Ohio, the state-wide curfew was lifted on Feb. 11, a result of the state’s hospitalization numbers remaining below 2,500 for seven consecutive days. As of Feb. 16, only 1,566 patients were being treated for the coronavirus in Ohio hospitals, although four of the state’s 88 counties remain ‘red’ under the Public Health Advisory System.
Currently, Ohio is in Phase 1B of the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Program, which includes all residents over the age of 65 and younger individuals with pre-existing health conditions. Health-care workers and residents in congregate care facilities were previously eligible to receive the vaccine under Phase 1A. Additionally, all K-12 teachers will be able to receive their first dose of the vaccine by March 1.
Ohio has been receiving, on average, 140,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine weekly. Since the state has over 2 million residents, it will certainly be some time before the coronavirus vaccine is available to everyone who wants it.
Despite this forward progress in combating the pandemic, multiple variants of the coronavirus have been observed. One major new strain, B.1.1.7., was first discovered in the United Kingdom and is reportedly 35% more deadly than the original virus.
B.1.1.7. has reached 35 states, including Ohio, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have predicted that B.1.1.7. will be responsible for the majority of U.S. cases. Despite the severity of this new strain, existing vaccines are still effective against it.
The growing presence of mutated strains of the coronavirus make it clear that, even though COVID-19 restrictions have been in place for almost a year, the existence of mask and social distancing requirements are still a necessity. Continuing on a preventative course of action will help to limit the number of cases and save lives until the vaccine can become available to all.