Jack Carroll ’24
Given the recent surge in positive COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks, as well as the College’s struggle to contain the spread of the virus at Trinity, it could be potentially harmful for students to remain on campus for the fall semester unless conditions change.
As the COVID-19 dashboard recently reported an ominous total of 56 active cases (down to 18 at the time of this writing), it is evident that the reopening plans–the consequences of which are not yet fully understood–have so far been ineffective in preventing the contraction and spread of the deadly virus that has already claimed the lives of more than 219,000 people in the United States alone.
Before going any further it would be unfair to assign the entire weight of responsibility for the rise in cases to the reopening plans. Any current student with a pair of eyes, a smartphone, and a tinge of common sense would be able to realize that the careless behavior of some students have not helped the College in its dying effort to “Protect the Nest.”
Indeed, if Trinity is a “nest,” then the nest has become littered and sickened with White Claws, discarded masks, and respiratory illness.
Nonetheless, last summer, Trinity joined many other institutions across the country in making the decision to reopen in the admirable attempt to provide its students with a quality education and a sense of community amidst the extremely difficult circumstances. However, there have been some challenges up to this point.
The Tripod recently reported that infected students were sent to quarantine on the same floor as non-infected students in the Stowe and Clemens dormitories. It was also reported that this move was made without any prior warnings or notifications to residents of either of these dormitories. In addition, the “one student, one room” idea for student housing was apparently revised.
It is further worth highlighting that the previous decisions essentially reintroduce any of the averted health risks from the social-distancing and mask mandates outlined in the Community Contract–which is, in reality, a five page document which has proven to have as little influence on human behavior as a United Nations resolution calling for world peace.
Since some seem to have forgotten the implications and potential outcomes of the illness on the community, it is evident that the failure of some to recognize the virus as a threat to those on and off campus has played a role in the conditions that have developed to date.
Amongst those who have not been impacted by the virus, it is often not regarded as a severe illness. Many unaffected people tend to view the COVID-19 pandemic as an abstract phenomenon that only threatens the elderly, residents of crowded cities, and patients in nursing homes. This is far from the truth.
To those who think that their luck makes them more knowledgeable than medical experts at Johns Hopkins and the Centers for Disease Control, it is important to take the time to do some reading on how the virus has impacted the lives of certain individuals and families across the country.
In September, a sophomore at Appalachian State University in North Carolina passed away after suffering from neurological complications caused by the coronavirus. Disturbingly enough, ASU is still open today and its COVID-19 dashboard dismally reported over 100 active daily cases at the time this piece was written.
In New York City, where the virus has lead to the death of over 33,000 residents (which, for a sense of proportion, is the equivalent to the disappearance of the entire student body of UConn amongst each of its schools and campuses), coronavirus-stricken corpses were wrapped in orange body bags and placed in the hallways of the Wyckoff Hospital in Brooklyn in the months following the initial outbreak of the pandemic.
Also, in the spring of this year, an emergency room doctor at a Manhattan hospital committed suicide after heroically working at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic in one of the most affected cities in the country.
These real-life and devastating accounts hardly scratch the surface of the endless suffering that comprises the ever-rising COVID-19 statistics. Speaking of which, at the time this article was written, the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Dashboard reported over 8 million confirmed cases in the U.S. and over 39 million globally.
It was recently reported in The Wall Street Journal that the U.S. reached the highest level of daily cases since mid-August this past Wednesday. In the same article, it was also reported that the data from the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation estimates that an additional 180,000 deaths could occur in the U.S. by February.
On Oct. 15, the Hartford Courant released data from Governor Ned Lamont that identified the city of Hartford as one of 11 coronavirus hotspots in Connecticut.
As far as students such as myself are concerned, it is evident that many are eager to enjoy a rewarding college experience. Despite my frustrations with some of the behavior that has taken place, I have the utmost empathy for my peers as we have all had our high school graduations and first semesters of college hindered by such devastating and unprecedented conditions.
Nonetheless, given the COVID-19 case count at Trinity and its continual ebb and flow, as well as the fact that there is not a vaccine that is going to be available in the near future, the question now becomes: How will we “protect the nest”? If the case count continues along an upwards trajectory, it could become increasingly possible that instruction moves online at some point during the school year.
As I continue my studies during the fall semester, I will reserve my ambivalent thoughts about the current state of affairs at Trinity. Most of all, I wish a swift recovery for my on-campus peers who are infected with COVID-19, and a productive end to the semester for everyone.