Editorial | Be hopeful for COVID-19’s upcoming conclusion

March 2020 is more a faraway nightmare than an actual moment for Illini. Beginning with the fateful email sending students home, to then transferring academics online, every University member has felt COVID-19 induced societal and educational collisions.

Life has changed; reality feels frozen. Yet, amidst the unreliability, the pandemic produces, optimism awaits as society appears to round COVID-19’s corner. Additionally, we have reached a pivotal point where our actions either lead us to light or entrap us in several more months of the virus.

COVID-19’s journey begins with ambiguous dread and remains ambiguous with hope. With multiple vaccine options, promoted mandates and booster shots available to those vulnerable, today’s COVID-19 condition is not as perilous as yesterday’s. Moreover, the University can enjoy yielding a 91% vaccination rate among undergraduates as a premier accomplishment waged against the pandemic.

In addition to society traveling a great length in mitigating the virus, so has the University with its policies. At the start, the University took minimal steps in approaching the virus — reflecting the uncertainty elicited by the fresh virus — with The Daily Illini at the time exclaiming, “the University emailed students and staff, cautioning us against traveling internationally during Spring Break.

Furthermore, the University fumbled its initial COVID-19 response in a Massmail from early spring 2020, the University acknowledged a student’s positivity, but unknowingly (perhaps) delivered the news a week late.

Fortunately, with the University’s pioneering testing apparatus and policies, a legitimate response to COVID-19 soon arrived to account for its pandemic commencing mistakes.

Similarly, it is riveting to observe the attitude before the assistance of vaccines entered society. In September of 2020, one DI editorial characterized the obscure timeline of vaccines stating, “estimates on the release of a vaccine span from two months to over two years.”

Luckily, once again, the dire situation of waiting months to years never materialized as vaccines became widely available the subsequent semester and a hopeful light pierced COVID-19’s daunting darkness. However, one concern that persists in both the recent past and today is the distress of not having enough people receive the vaccine.

The advice of yesterday’s editorial holds to this day: “we must listen to health experts, exercise reasonable caution but not unfettered paranoia and do our duty to the common good by vaccinating at the earliest opportunity.”

Thankfully, the University has exceeded the required 70% for herd immunity, and, somewhat unexpectedly, society at large is reaching the necessary objectives for a true conquest over COVID-19. Presently, around 66% of the United States has received at least one dose — the number increases to about 77% when excluding those below 12 who cannot be vaccinated yet.

A noble feat considering last fall and winter’s frightful conditions, and with cases falling from their recent Delta-high, optimism is warranted. While we wait for vaccine approval in those as young as 5, we must also not let this aspirational moment slip between our fingers.

The end is near. Although time is certainly obscured by COVID-19, there will be a world in which life possesses a “new normal.” There will not be an individual, conclusive moment where COVID-19 will be “defeated,” nonetheless.

Therefore, we must achieve the steps in the prolonged road towards the “new normal.” Continuing to wear a face mask and encouraging those hesitant to get vaccinated is the definitive strategy we can take in overcoming the pandemic.

Let us carry on for a bit longer before we enter the light at the end of the tunnel.

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