Staying Safe and Having Fun

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The Maroon Bells in Colorado are just one of the many beautiful places people can visit for a vacation while ensuring their safety (and the safety of others). Even though more and more people are getting vaccinated every day, it is important to remember that we are not back to normal just yet (photo by L. Kuhn).

Taylor Dent, Stampede Editor in Chief

Well, here I am. Again. 

Trying to convince people to live their lives safely in the middle of a pandemic.

Again.

I still vividly remember this time last year. I was leaving class, and a fellow student was stressing about COVID-19 (at this point it was in the U.S., but not yet a major source of concern). She feared what it might become (what it did become), and the teacher told her that he highly doubted it would turn into a pandemic, and that we’d see each other in a week once spring break had ended. Then, unbeknownst to me, I left that class for what would be the last time that year.

Everyone knows what happened next. Our one-week break from school turned into three, and then the stay-at-home period was extended indefinitely. People still went on their vacations, because it was too late to cancel, and we didn’t yet know how bad everything would turn out to be. We still thought that there was an end in sight, that we might even have a chance at a semi-normal summer mostly free of COVID-19.

Those were good times.

Now, one year later, we are in a vastly different position. We’ve been living through a global pandemic for almost a full year. We have vaccines now (plural! Multiple vaccines!) and they’ve been distributed to about half a million people. But this is in no way over.

As we approach spring break, I find myself having the same frustrations with people that I have had for nearly the entire year. And quite frankly, I’m tired. I am tired of trying to convince people that the best thing to do is stay home and isolate, because we all know that ship sailed a long time ago. So today, I’m going to try and compromise.

Is the best thing to do this spring break stay home and stop the spread? Yes. I’m not going to stop advocating for people to stay at home. However, I know there are a lot of people who are going to meet up with friends and/or go on vacation regardless. 

So here’s a couple of things people can do to stay safe and still have fun!

First: anyone planning on meeting up with friends should do so safely. Wear a mask if riding in the same car, and if going out to eat, aim for sitting at an outside dining area (spread out as far as possible). Remember – even if the two people in question are at low-risk, it is not a guarantee that everyone they interact with in a day is, and asymptomatic spread is still very much a thing. 

Second: if traveling, try to avoid high-contact areas. Maybe consider renting an RV and going hiking if the thought of going without a vacation is abhorrent. Try to stay away from typical destinations like Florida, or states like Texas where mask mandates have been lifted.

The key here is to gather outside, if at all. Outside, there is more room to distance and the air everyone is breathing is not trapped in a space like it would be in a car/restaurant/house/etc. Want to meet up with a friend? Great! Plan a picnic in a park and sit at least six feet apart to ensure that everyone stays safe. Family wants to go on vacation? Superb! Just make sure to avoid airplanes, hotels, and other crowded tourist traps (that trip to Disney World can probably wait until next year).

Remember when the phrase “flatten the curve” was everywhere in the news when things first started getting bad? That hasn’t stopped being a goal. You can still do your part to stay safe while having fun.

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