Mask up, Duhawks.

Avery Wickersham (TheLorian)

It’s been nearly two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the world is still experiencing the horrors of the virus. While everyone believes they are on the decline, some places are still experiencing rises in cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Dubuque’s statistics, as of Oct. 27, are as follows: 370 new cases (a rise of 113 new cases from the previous week) and 1,180 positive cases. In terms of age groups, 35 percent of children ages 0-17 have positive COVID-19 tests, while 11 percent of college-aged and adults ages 18-29 have positive COVID-19 tests (Dubuque County Iowa).

These statistics may not be as glaring as they used to be, but the problem is the rising positivity rate. The CDC has dubbed Dubuque county as a “high transmission” area, and our current positivity rate is 17.43 percent as of Nov 2. This statistic is updated every day and is up about three percent from the Oct. 27 positivity rate.

As it stands right now, the Loras College campus has a temporary mask mandate in place: masks need to be worn inside, whether students or guests. This means in all classes and buildings; in the dorms, masks need to be worn in the halls and common spaces per the campus-wide emails sent out every week.

While it is frustrating to deal with a temporary mask mandate, it’s necessary considering the rising positivity rate. It’s currently cold and flu season on top of the COVID-19 pandemic, so the school is trying to keep cold, flu, and COVID-19 cases to a minimum. According to Tammi Marti, one of the nurses in the Health Center, our immune systems are lower than usual because of the events of the past couple of years.

As Marti discussed with me yesterday, vaccines are a great way to lower the positivity rate. Only about 60 percent of the campus has reported receiving their vaccine, and that number is always changing. Science is continuing to develop around the vaccines and the pandemic in general, and there are many different sources available if anyone has any questions.

All students and faculty need to be respectful of their peers. There is a certain amount of kindness and sacrifice that everyone needs, as we are still trying to protect those who can’t get vaccinated, the high-risk community, and anyone who feels uncomfortable being in close proximity to people without a mask. I’ve experienced this frustration many times throughout the pandemic, as I am part of the high-risk community and have been told “no” when asking others to put on a mask. If a student asks another student to put on a mask or to pull up a mask, consider that they might have something going on in their life, and choose to be understanding and accepting.

Students can ask faculty to talk to anyone without a mask, provided the student has nicely asked someone to put a mask on. Remember, it’s the current rule of our college, and it needs to be respected for all of us to keep fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

If students have any questions, contact Tammi.Marti@loras.edu for any questions. We are Loras Together, and that includes keeping masks pulled up over our noses and mouths as long as needed to keep our communities safe!

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