Opinion

STAFF EDITORIAL: With the Coronavirus, it’s Better to be Safe ­— and Informed — than Sorry

Zack Miller | The Phoenix

In the digital age, we have more information at our fingertips than ever before — which is partly why we’re seeing so much about the coronavirus lately.

COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by coronavirus, has dominated the news cycle and minds of those around the world. Between school closings, evacuations and quarantines, just about every outlet across the country has been extensively covering the spread of the virus. To some, it might feel like too much coverage. 

But being informed is extremely important throughout this global crisis.

As upsetting as it was, Loyola’s decision to send students home from the John Felice Rome Center was the right call. The World Health Organization (WHO) recorded more than 9,000 coronavirus infections and 463 deaths as of March 10, according to WHO’s situation report. It’s been the hardest hit country outside Asia, with about 16 million people quarantined in the country, according to the BBC. 

There’s no way the university could’ve functioned properly and guaranteed the students’ safety in Italy. As of publication, Italy is on lockdown, meaning Loyola students got out of there just before all non-essential travel in and out of the country was prohibited. 

With the decision, Loyola prioritized its students. The administration made the choice to put students’ health and well-being first. Even though students were rightfully upset, it’s better to be bored and quarantined than at greater risk for contracting the coronavirus.

Loyola has frequently updated students about its response to the virus — sending out multiple emails from the Wellness Center and the Office of the President. Through all the communication, Loyola has proven to be transparent every step of the way, which students should appreciate, even if the university hasn’t canceled classes as they may have hoped.

Though the emails may be overwhelming, this communication is a good thing. It’s the university’s responsibility to inform its students about all relevant health and safety concerns.

And the news coverage about the outbreak — much of which has included a subscription fee waiver — is equally informative and important. The outbreak shouldn’t be blown out of proportion. But when it comes to health, the more information the better. The public deserves to know what it’s getting into and know how to protect themselves.

The emails from Loyola’s Wellness Center and the Office of the President mentioned the possibility of transitioning classes from face-to-face instruction to online. The emails also mention the action other universities have taken to prevent the spread of the virus in their student body. Fordham University, Santa Clara University and Seattle University are mentioned in the emails as schools that transitioned to online instruction due to “high numbers of COVID-19 cases” in their states. 

While it can be annoying to get so many separate emails in your inbox about the same topic, it’s always better to be over-informed than under-informed. Information on the virus is constantly evolving, so staying updated helps keep us keep up on how to stay healthy and reminds us how to prevent it from spreading. 

Part of the reason the virus seems like it’s being blown out of proportion is that news is far more accessible now than it ever has been. We have updates at the palm of our hands on various news websites and apps. The virus is spreading quickly, so it makes sense that the news about it would be, too. And now that we can access an abundance of news in a series of clicks and swipes, that information is just more available. But don’t be fooled — that’s a good thing.

We don’t know how severe the virus will become in Illinois, but the proper distribution of information is instrumental in containing the virus. 

In the meantime, wash your hands. Spread credible information — not the coronavirus.

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