Covid-19 cases are on the rise everywhere— act like it
To say “be safe” or “be responsible” over the break leaves a lot of room for interpretation. Let’s be absolutely clear: This wave of the pandemic is worse than we’ve ever seen, with cases of and hospitalizations for the coronavirus breaking records every single day. Most of the hometowns we’re returning to are not enforcing sufficient restrictions to mitigate the spread, and if you’re staying at Rice, Harris County certainly is not either. It’s time for us to rethink our new normal in the context of the worsening outbreak.
Although cases at Rice were generally trending upward toward the end of the semester, a 0.14 percent positivity rate in the last seven days is not reflective of the world beyond the hedges. Since Aug. 1, our community has had 80 total positive cases (106, including tests not administered at Rice). Yet, these cases still occurred despite Rice enforcing much stricter distancing and masking rules than local elected officials. Undergraduates accounted for 34 of these cases (39, including tests not administered at Rice) even though we are subject to the strictest iterations of Rice’s rules and have mandatory weekly testing and aggressive contact tracing to isolate any cases that do occur.
Even if you have personally flouted some rules, or if you assume that these cases are mostly the product of students flouting the rules, one thing is true at the population level: We have been living under the safest possible circumstances. Rice’s bubble has proven itself to be far from impenetrable, but if you are leaving Rice for the break, you are departing from strict safety measures and mandated weekly testing. It is time to be safer and more responsible as the coronavirus continues to spread and the majority of local governments demand less responsibility of their citizens than in May, despite numbers being higher today.
As we return home, consider taking extra precautions to keep yourself and your family safe. Instead of going out to restaurants or large gatherings, consider ordering takeout or cooking meals at home. Rather than traveling multiple times or over long distances during winter break, consider staying home and using technology to stay in touch with friends and family. Get tested if you start exhibiting symptoms or come into contact with someone who has tested positive. The actions you take now and during the break can protect your loved ones at home as well as impact the number of cases we have at Rice when we return in the spring.
Editor’s Note: Thresher editorials are collectively written by the members of the Thresher’s editorial board. Current members include Rishab Ramapriyan, Ivanka Perez, Amy Qin, Elizabeth Hergert, Nayeli Shad, Ella Feldman, Katelyn Landry, Rynd Morgan, Savannah Kuchar, Ben Baker-Katz, Simona Matovic and Tina Liu.
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In January, the Rice Board of Trustees announced plans to move the Founder’s memorial to another area of the academic quad as part of a whole redesign, adding additional context of his “entanglement” with slavery. This comes despite continual calls from the student body to not have the enslaver displayed in the quad regardless of the context provided. It would be just for these calls to action and the majority of the Task Force Committee who voted to not keep it there that the Board of Trustees decide to not keep the memorial prominently displayed in the quad at all.