Coronavirus: Little For Us to Worry About, Lots of Hysteria

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BY: Sheraya Smith 

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional; however, I’ve been listening to several professionals, and these are my conclusions.

Coronavirus disease, more accurately COVID-19, is being overblown. As of Monday, there have been approximately 114,000 confirmed cases and 4,000 deaths around the world. While this death toll sounds high, when you do the math, that’s only a 3% death rate. In reality, that rate is even lower, as coronavirus is overall a mild illness, resulting in numerous undetected cases. 

If you’re still worried about the lethalness of COVID-19, consider the number of people just in the U.S. who died of the flu in the 2019-2020 flu season: approximately 20,000, according to the CDC. This is with a vaccine that was said to be a decent match for this year’s strains. The flu is also deadlier to a broader range of people, while most deaths by COVID-19 have occurred in people over 80 years old or those with serious underlying health conditions. The vast, vast majority of college students have little to worry about: only 2% of COVID-19 cases (not deaths, cases!) have occurred in persons aged 19 or younger, according to the CDC. If we get sick, we may get a cough or fever, feel bad for a while, but then we are more than expected to recover. Ideally, though, don’t get sick in the first place: wash your hands very frequently, avoid touching your face, and stay away from sick people.

Now, for DePauw’s response to COVID-19: this is too extreme. I respect the concern for safety, but several of the measures taken are just over the top: 

Implementing a no-fans policy at games/meets? I could maybe see asking outside fans not to come to home events, but DePauw students aren’t even allowed to attend? What’s the point of still having the game?

Banning all service activities in the community? I could see recommending less interaction with senior citizens, but what negative impact might cancelling service have on programs dependent on DePauw students? What about Bonner Scholars who are dependent on service to receive stipends? 

Possibly moving towards online classes? Sure, several massive schools have done this, but is this the liberal arts experience we paid for?

And so on. DePauw’s response to COVID-19 has created a lot of unanswered questions and, frankly, added to the hysteria around this virus. 

One more thing: there’s been rumors that Wabash cancelled its graduation ceremony. Please, DePauw, do not follow suit and rob us of our graduation because of hysteria. I and my classmates have worked too hard the last four years to see that dream of walking across the stage with diploma in hand be shattered.