It should be common sense by now that parties are a no-go during a pandemic, but it seems some people still haven’t gotten the message.
With school starting up again and students moving back into their Chicago apartments after a summer at home, it’s understandable why some might think it’s okay to go back to business as usual and throw the occasional kick-back.
However, COVID-19 doesn’t care if you and your friends have finally been reunited after months of missing each other — the virus is still around.
Confirmed COVID-19 cases are still on the rise in Chicago, with an additional 1,392 cases and seven deaths reported Sept. 8. Loyola’s Wellness Center has also reported positive COVID-19 cases within the school’s community.
Going to parties is risky not only for yourself, but more importantly for those around you — especially the Rogers Park community.
Loyola students are lucky to be a part of one of the most vibrant, diverse neighborhoods in the city and we shouldn’t disrespect it by blatantly ignoring the city’s COVID-19 guidelines that say people shouldn’t gather in large groups.
The city’s July 24 Public Health Order says a gathering of 50 or more people is allowed as long as “each person or household is separated from each other person or household by a minimum of six feet, clearly demarcated as such by tape, rope or other similar means,” and “individuals in gatherings of 50 or fewer are still encouraged to maintain six feet of social distancing with individuals who are not members of the same household.”
Our neighbors didn’t get any say about whether or not Loyola students would return to Rogers Park, bringing our germs from across the country. Instead, they watched students move into apartments near campus and set up beer pong tables in backyards.
Even though some college students might be less likely to experience the most severe consequences of the virus, the people around us might not be so lucky. The old couples and families who live above us, the other patrons at our favorite local grocery stores and really anyone we come into contact with around campus are put directly at risk of contracting the virus as a result of our decisions.
One case study released by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in April showed how two family gatherings held in Chicago — before social distancing guidelines were put in place — contributed to the overall spread of the virus in the city early on. One person who had mild symptoms of the coronavirus attended a funeral and a birthday party within a few days of each other and infected 16 people, three of whom died, according to the study.
But it wasn’t just people at the gatherings who were affected by the disease — the CDC hypothesizes these clusters may have increased transmission more broadly across Chicago.
The study showed examples of people who developed symptoms after coming in contact with some of the 16 individuals who tested positive after attending large gatherings. A family member and home care professional who both visited one of the sick funeral attendees in the hospital later showed symptoms of the coronavirus and possibly spread it to their family members. In another example, three of the birthday party attendees attended church days after developing symptoms and infected at least one person.
This shows that our decisions to see our friends excessively or host irresponsible parties impact more than just ourselves. A fun party with your friends could mean a funeral for your neighbors next week.
Now more than ever, our Jesuit values are being put to the test. One of our guiding principles as Loyola students is to care for our community. Right now, it means sacrificing a few of our social freedoms to make sure that we aren’t endangering the health of the professors, artists, small business owners, families and others around us.
Loyola made the right decision to put classes online and not have students move back into dorms, but now it’s up to the students who came back anyway not to blow it for everyone.