Student Opinion: Are We Reopening Too Early?

(Stanford University/Google)

BAlex Hernandez-Zavala

Are we reopening too early?

Things are seemingly lighting up for California, with most Northern California counties moving to the less restrictive orange tier.

Though various new strains of COVID-19 have been popping up throughout California, I believe the speed at which the state is reopening is appropriate. However, I would still like to see precautions taking place from now and beyond the June 15th reopening date.

But, it turns out that not all Californians are happy about the reopening speed.

One such case was the Fiddleheads Café in Mendocino, Northern California, which offered a 50 percent discount for those who toss their mask, according to SFGate.

This isn’t a great image for this café. The invitation for people to throw away their masks is encouraging people to toss COVID-19 restrictions, the ones we’ve been following for a year at this point, the ones that have kept COVID-19 from spreading.

This is an egregious act of disrespect to those who worked on the frontline during this pandemic.

Over 3,600 healthcare workers died over the past 12 months. Those are 3,600 lives that could’ve been spared if people wore their masks and used common sense. 

I understand that business owners have the right to do promotions like these, but I have to ask, why would you? Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should–––especially in a time so critical as this.

Aside from questionable business practices, California is doing well.

According to SFGate, California has the lowest COVID-19 positivity rate. We must keep following the protocols and new norms we’ve been following over the course of the year––especially amid a new innominate strain of the virus looming around California.

The Los Angeles Times recently reported that a double mutant strain of the virus proves worrisome for scientists and is being closely monitored by the CDC. 

But what about the vaccines? Are they effective against these new strains?

Well, it’s complicated.

An article published by Medical News Today shows how limited information about vaccine efficacy on new strains is. They mention how the AstraZeneca vaccine has drastically low effectiveness against the B.1.351 strain, “…the vaccine only had an efficacy of 10.4 % against COVID-19 in people who had an infection with B.1.351.” 

However, the scope of the study was limited and not generalizable as “…it is worth noting that this study was small and has not been through peer review yet.”

Still, I believe the June 15th reopening date is a reasonable date for us to return to society, as long as there are some strings attached, which I sadly know people will cut. Reopening could be a huge success, as long as people wear their masks and the state utilizes vaccine passports appropriately and sparingly.

A vaccine passport is a credential that shows you’ve gotten your COVID-19 vaccinations. This is a great way to start letting people re-enter certain places, like educational institutions. NPR reports that though it does come with its controversies––mainly that the government will keep these records and that these vaccine records will interfere with individual freedom––the United States government ensures that Americans’ privacy is protected.

Reopening the state should continue to be a systematic and gentle process––nothing like what Texas did. A report from Nature highlighted lifting the statewide mask mandate as treading on dangerous land because of the new COVID-19 variants constantly popping up, not to mention the difficulty behind tracking them.

We’ve all done wonderfully in keeping COVID-19 infection rates on its knees; let’s not throw that away. 

Be responsible. 

Wear your mask. 

Please, adhere to the new norms.

Alex Hernandez-Zavala is a first-year student at UC Davis, double majoring in Psychology and Sociology. He was born in the Central Valley and raised in Salinas, California.

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5 thoughts on “Student Opinion: Are We Reopening Too Early?”

  1. Tia Will

    “We’ve all done wonderfully in keeping COVID-19 infection rates on its knees; let’s not throw that away.

    Be responsible.

    Wear your mask.

    Please, adhere to the new norms.”

    These words summarize my view of our current situation. I know there are people whose goal is to return to our previous “norm” as though that were the optimal way to live. However, I would propose that there is a potentially better way to live. One that saves lives without harming others substantively.

    I will point to one statistic as reported by the CDC. In a typical flu season, there are reported 150-200 pediatric deaths from the flu. In this last flu season, there was only 1 pediatric death reported. I suggest this indicates the additional measures of staying home when ill, distancing, masking, and disinfecting should be standard features of a healthier new normal.

    I hate to be perpetually raining on people’s parade, however, I want to point out that twice before we have been at this point on the curve of cases where we believed we were doing well enough to “open up”, only to be hit even harder by the next surge. I am quite concerned given the diversity of mutations, that we are again being overly optimistic, seeing only the favorable factors while discounitng those that are unfavorable.

    So I will end as I began, with a plea to immunize when available but also to continue to mask, distance, and sanitize. Let’s use all our available tools, not just those we like.

  2. Alan Miller

    Indeed the June 15th opening date is a bit too Texas for me, Mr. Newsom.  I mean, fine if the current trends downward continue, but my understanding is testing is way down as variants rise out of control in much of Europe, Brazil, Michigan . . . . . how often how we seen surges “there” turn into surges “here” 3-4 weeks later.  True, vaccinations continue to rise, but will we really beat the variants when they are “already here” weeks before we detect their effect?  As well, study from Israel saying the Pfizer vaccine may not be effective against the South African strain (and I bow my head to all the South Africans who will become victims of violence due to this name).  The Brazilian strain (and I bow my head to all the Brazilians who will become victims of violence due this name) is proving more contagious and more deadly.  Both are starting to show up in the U.S.  So yeah, Mr. Newsom, are you trying to do everything you can to make me believe you deserve to be removed from office ASAP?   Announcing an opening date with so much unknown?  Stupid.

    Also, thanks for the note about Fiddleheads so I can make a mental note never to give them a dime.

      1. Keith Olsen

        Being that the yearly flu shot isn’t totally safe either I don’t think 6 out of 7,000,000 are odds that we can’t subject ourselves to in order to help quell a pandemic with much greater odds of sickness and death.

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