With good news, America is beginning to ease pandemic restrictions
today at 12:04 pm
(Notre Dame website)
But some, like Notre Dame, are backsliding
Governors all across America are easing their suffocating pandemic restrictions, by opening schools, allowing more people to return to work and opening restaurants to indoor dining. Vaccinations are increasing, to 1.66 million doses a day. The World Health Organization has reported that number of new global cases has continued to fall.
It’s always risky to proclaim the beginning of the end (or the end of the beginning). But it’s been a year and if there’s anything that unites Americans, it is a desperate wish to move on. President Joe Biden’s expectation that we’ll get our county back by, oh say, Christmas, is not tolerable. Or dare I say, realistic.
Nonetheless, dark clouds continue to hover over silver linings. The New York Times couldn’t help itself; reporting the good news that vaccine distribution is accelerating, but saying in the same sentence that B.1.1.7 has a worrisome mutation that could make it harder to control with vaccines.
Even though a new study provides “strong evidence that the vaccine is highly effective against a mutation that has forced European governments to prolong their lockdowns.” (In more good news, the study also shows that the, “Covid-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE generates robust immunity after one dose and can be stored in ordinary freezers instead of at ultracold temperatures….”)
Meanwhile, the University of Notre Dame backslid, imposing new lockdown restrictions “because positive case counts were again heightened at 48 and 46 yesterday.” That’s out of a student population of 12,681 students and 1,396 academic staff. It said:
Cases remain concentrated among undergraduate students on campus although, encouragingly, the rate of first year student transmission has decreased since last week.
Notre Dame was among the first universities to attempt to stay open, but the new restrictions disappointingly harken back to some of the overarching limits in the pandemic’s early days. They are effective through at least March 1:
- All student activities will be offered virtually.
- Student club and organization gatherings will be offered virtually.
- No club and intramural sports at this time.
Spaces & Dining
- Seating capacity in several lounge and dining locations is reduced by approximately 25%.
- Rohr’s will offer only take out dining.
- Undergraduate residence hall visitation is limited to residents of that hall.
- Guests are limited to no more than two students beyond the number of residents assigned to the room.
- When resident guests are present in student rooms, everyone in the room must wear masks, distance appropriately, and leave doors open to increase ventilation.
- Students may still attend Mass in any residence hall, but they must depart from the hall after the liturgy ends.
I’m glad that I’m not an administrator who has to make those kinds of decisions. I”m more glad that I’m not a student who has been ordered to live a hermit-like life. By now, we know that social isolation of this kind is destructive, even dangerous. That younger people are less in danger than the elderly and people with serious illnesses.
And so it goes. It seems that every time the media report some good news, there’s always a caveat issued in the same breathe that “experts say it’s still too early to lift major restrictions on social and commercial activity.” [My emphasis.]
When, pray tell, does that happen? Does Biden have a “plan” for re-opening?
Despite the science, Chicago still has its public high schools shut with no indication when the Chicago Teachers Union will give it’s permission to return to the classroom.
Once again, the number of daily infections is not the best measure of the pandemic’s seriousness. Yet, those squishy numbers continue to dominate the discussion and form the basis for most judgments about reopening.
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