Editorial | We are once again asking students to take social distancing seriously

Port+Authority+buses+remind+people+to+stay+at+home.

Kaycee Orwig | Senior Staff Photographer

Port Authority buses remind people to stay at home.

We published our first pandemic-related editorial exactly one year ago today, telling students it was time to take social distancing precautions seriously.

The editorial followed Pitt’s decision to cancel in-person instruction for the spring 2020 semester and the growing severity of the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, after more than a year of mask wearing, social distancing and wishing for things to go back to normal, it’s incredibly vital that we don’t let our communal pandemic fatigue get the better of us.

None of us can or should let our guards down. While it sometimes feels like it might last forever, this pandemic will come to an end. We just have to hang on for a few more months, keep following precautions and remember that this won’t go away unless we take action to protect ourselves and others.

As spring rolls in and it starts to get warmer outside, it’s natural that people will want to spend time outside. And you should — it can help with depression and cabin fever — but you have to remain socially distant from other people, and avoid gathering with large groups.

Likewise, as we approach the second St. Patrick’s Day in a pandemic, it’s important not to go to a party or to a bar to celebrate. It’s fine to gather with the people in your pod, but you have to follow guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — large gatherings are still extremely risky because case numbers are still high.

It’s imperative that we continue to do everything we can to prevent case numbers from getting any higher than they already are. The Allegheny County Health Department reported 891 cases in South, Central and North Oakland on March 13. We have to do what we can to bring this number down, or at the very least stop it from getting any higher, especially because college campuses often feel like COVID-19 petri dishes when careless students create massive outbreaks.

We know you’ve heard all of this a thousand times, and we know you’re tired of this. We’re tired of it, too. It feels totally unfair, like we’re being robbed of our college experience and watching some of the best years of our lives fly by, unable to even go to a restaurant with our friends.

The thing is, the pandemic has already lasted more than a year — what’s a few more months on top of that? As vaccine rollout starts to improve and the United States inches toward herd immunity, it pretty much comes down to an endurance test for us. Will we cave to our social instincts and let our guards down? Or will we do what’s right and what’s safe by continuing to follow general pandemic precautions? We’re all well-versed in them by now.

We have to persevere. It’s not safe for us to stop social distancing yet, and it’s not safe for us to go back to living our lives the way we used to.

We know it’s been a rough year. Many haven’t been able to go home or see their families, and by now it seems like almost everyone is struggling with some form of executive dysfunction or mental health issue. We’re living through times that are — as we’re sure you’ve heard — unprecedented.

We weren’t programmed to live like this, sitting in front of a computer all day, seeing classmates and coworkers in little boxes on Zoom. But as we’ve said many times in the last year, the better we follow the guidelines, the sooner this will all be over.

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