This was going to be a breezy editorial leaning on the camaraderie of Gators across Alachua County doing their part to suppress the spread for the sake of sports. Instead, it’s a desperate call to action from a sports writer that wants to survive this fall semester.
We want that Saturday tradition to remain entrenched in our lives. But let’s be honest, sports aren’t the epicenter of the universe.
Right now, as thousands of people make their seasonal return to Gainesville, we need to remind ourselves of the fact that COVID-19 didn’t disappear into oblivion. In the last week, there were 209 confirmed positive cases, and don’t think Gainesville will be immune to the same atmospheric leaps seen in other college towns nationwide.
This past summer was frustrating. Countless students lost their internships, study abroad trips and other plans that were unavoidably canceled; more were unable to fully enjoy the three-month break between semesters due to social distancing guidelines.
But hundreds of thousands of Floridians continued to get sick, and thousands have lost their lives fighting this virus. And, no amount of stress and cabin fever justifies ignoring the social distancing guidelines that remained the standard for nearly half a year.
There’s no denying that times are tough and the stress is unparalleled, but that’s no excuse to be reckless.
We all have to do our part to suppress the spread of the virus, whether the motivation is to preserve sports or the communal desire to not infect others through nothing more than sheer utilitarian motivation. What matters is an overwhelming attempt by the masses to work together rather than preserve the college experience that only increased the odds of the virus’ spread.
Why? Because nobody is invincible, no matter the age. Currently, individuals aged 15 through 34 comprise an overwhelming proportion of positive cases in Alachua County with 2,437 to 5,129.
Of the 5,129 cases, 309 were hospitalized and 33 died. And though some may tout the low death rate —as if that’s an excuse to take a risk—we’re still unsure of the lasting effects to the body may be. But, there’s sufficient evidence to suggest that patients who recover from COVID-19 may develop myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle) or at least that’s what the National Center for Biotechnology Information said. Then, there’s the risk of developing scar tissue in the lungs, limiting the body’s ability to absorb oxygen as the damaged tissue can no longer function effectively.
But before anyone jumps to arguments for natural herd immunity, know that there is evidence that individuals who recover are still at risk of reinfection, including one 25-year-old in Nevada, according to STAT. And for those hoping for an Aaron Rogers-like Hail Mary heave in the form of a vaccine, only a handful are in the third phase of testing, and most won’t be available to the public until 2021. Why take the risk? Why cling on to the myth of the college experience? This isn’t the sniffles.
Like a rock thrown in a pond, each action has a ripple effect. While it’s dangerous to take the risk with thoughts of invincibility clouding any logical judgement, understand that countless essential workers are put at risk as well.
COVID-19 is bigger than sports. It’s a dangerous disease that can be suppressed through a communal effort. So, please do your part this semester. It’s really not hard.
Contact Christian Ortega at [email protected] and follow him on Twitter @unofficialchris.