As we dive into autumn with several upcoming holidays, COVID-19 cases are rising in Queens communities, with the opening of public schools and the refusal to wear a mask by some. At this point in the pandemic, we would expect masks to be the common courtesy of keeping each other safe, however, some continue to prioritize their political views before anything else. The reality is people hate being told what to do.
In a recent coronavirus briefing, Governor Andrew Cuomo designated certain hotspots around NYC with rising COVID-19 cases and categorized them based on zones. With Kew Gardens and Fresh Meadows categorized as epicenters of escalating COVID-19 cases, St. John’s University falls victim to a cluster map, as two-thirds of our campus is declared to be in the “yellow zone.” Once in the orange zone, all schools are required to transition to an online-only format, while non-essential businesses must temporarily close as well.
Cuomo’s initiative, called the Cluster Action Initiative, protects us from community spread and brings a halt to the rising density of cases — preventing the situation that happened back in March from occurring again. Along with this initiative, fines in New York City of $1,000 have been instated as a way of enforcing residents in all boroughs to mask up. I would have to agree with Governor Cuomo in his disapproval of people’s non-compliance at this point in the pandemic. In the beginning of the pandemic, there was plenty of misinformation and uncertainty, which was understandable. However, after eight months, a mask represents much more than just a mandate — it’s a selfless act of protecting others as well as yourself.
As a student with two hybrid classes and the rest online, I believe that if the University is again required to switch classes into an online format, there will not be a drastic difference as most professors are equipped for the possibility of transferring to a fully remote learning setting. Thankfully, professors have been lenient and flexible with assignments and exams, offering ample time for their completion. With a month remaining in the semester, many of us have adjusted to the circumstances and may even have begun to register for Spring 2021 classes.
In order to reduce the density of these clusters, it’s important that we all abide by social distancing guidelines and take the necessary measures to keep the people around us safe. There are many available alternatives of staying connected with friends and family, thereby eliminating the need for-in-person gatherings. Also, let’s keep in mind that a mask does save lives. From my own account, I have noticed that some people enter takeout restaurants without wearing a mask, and oftentimes, the staff looks the other way, fearing that these individuals may get violent. All I can say is that there needs to be a stronger enforcement of the mask mandate and a no-tolerance policy regarding the refusal to follow said mandate should be established at every business.