Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, many top health organizations are encouraging simple messages: wash your hands, don’t touch your face, cough into your elbow and practice social distancing.
But some college students across the country — including those at Oklahoma State University — are not taking these steps.
The rise of COVID-19 in the United States intertwines with OSU’s spring break. While some students went straight home and practiced all of these measures, others kept their original vacation plans.
“I’m in Destin, Florida, and very happy I went,” OSU sophomore Michael Zurales said. “Our private beach is still open. I got to hang out with 15 of my friends on the beach for six days. Now I’m still here with two closest friends and we’re thinking about extending our stay a week. COVID-19 didn’t really stop any spring break activities. I’m not saying what we did was smart or right, but it was definitely fun.”
This mindset is in direct contrast with the message that the facilities fighting this— including the Oklahoma State Department of Health — are trying to convey.
“Well the main thing, no matter where they are, whether the beach or wherever, whether they’re in Florida or Oklahoma, our message is the same and that is that the staying home and the practicing social distancing is very important for the sake of everyone in order to be able to stop the spread of this virus,” said OSDH public information manager Jamie Dukes.
The term “social distancing” has been trending for quite a few weeks now. The reason for the persistent preaching of this message is due to the impact it can have on the COVID-19 outbreak. According to the Center for Disease Control, the disease is transmitted from person-to-person contact, even if that person is six feet away. This is why some expects and leaders — such as Stillwater mayor Will Joyce — are encouraging to avoid face-to-face contact with other people.
“My message I think is that you are putting other people in danger with your actions right now,” Joyce said. “That goes for everybody. That goes for anybody who’s not a student too, that’s still not adhering to the social distancing guideline from the CDC and from local authorities.
"I think a lot of folks feel like this virus is not particularly dangerous to them and therefore they’re not worried too much about it. But you can give it to somebody else and it is highly contagious and you can give it to someone who is maybe not quite so able to deal with it as you are, and so those actions and that carelessness in attitudes and in behavior is absolutely putting other people at risk of serious illness and death from this virus.”
Even other OSU students are calling on their fellow classmates to follow the rules and help contain the virus.
“I would like to first point out that these words represent me and I am not speaking on behalf of anyone and anything I represent,” OSU student Brenden Determann II said. “As a college student myself during a time of crisis such as the COVID19 one, students are taking these vacations maybe to reward themselves for their hard work or even just a way to escape from the stressors they endure throughout college.
"It is important for students to understand that everyone should ‘essentially’ be seen as a carrier and to practice social distancing and to quarantine themselves if they have traveled to a destination they normally do not visit. With not knowing if someone has a weakened immune system, social distancing and placing a stoppage on vacations, allows us as a community to slow the rate of infection as a precautionary step before things progressively get worse before they start to get better.”