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Covid continues to sweep communities

In January of 2020, the first case of Covid-19 was confirmed in the US. Now in 2022, we’re facing yet another variant. As Covid infections have swept across the community, we find ourselves two years into a pandemic that was only supposed to last a few months. 

“On November 24, 2021, South Africa reported the identification of a new SARS-CoV-2 variant, B.1.1.529, to the World Health Organization (WHO). B.1.1.529 [Omicron] was first detected in specimens collected on November 11, 2021 in Botswana and on November 14, 2021 in South Africa,” (CDC). 

On Dec. 1, Dr Anthony Fauci, Biden’s chief medical advisor, announced the first confirmed case of the Omicron variant in the US and discussed his concern. Fauci said, “We know what we need to do to protect people, get vaccinated if you’re not already. Get boosted if you’ve been vaccinated for more than 6 months with Moderna, or two months with J&J, and all the other things we’ve been talking about, getting children vaccinated, masking in indoor congregate settings, etc.

The CDC then updated their Guidance for Covid-19 Prevention for K-12 schools info page. Their main recommendations include, promoting vaccinations, universal indoor masking regardless of vaccination status, and maintaining at least 3 feet of physical distance between students within classrooms. 

Only 7 days later,  Dec. 8th 2021, the new DCSD school board voted to repeal the mask mandate. Making it optional for students and staff to wear a mask or not inside the building. Looking around the building that day, I immediately saw a drop in the number of masks worn.

To no surprise, the lack of masks, mixed with a new variant, led us to a rise in confirmed cases. 

Confirmed COVID cases at HR. Updated DCSD Covid cases can be found here

Jennifer Long is an English teacher at HR who, although fully vaccinated, recently tested positive for Covid-19. On the repeal of the mask mandate, Long said, “It was disappointing but expected, that’s what they were voted in to do. Whether I agree or not, it’s nice not to be the mask police.”

Alex Fiduccia, freshman, said, “With more virus growth, we shouldn’t be lowering regulations, it seems like we should be adding more.” 

Looking around classrooms, most have about 5 or less masked people. Is it an issue of ignorance or being uninformed? 

Randall Hodous, science teacher, said, “If you understand scientifically what is going on, this is a virus, if a virus can’t spread, can’t find a new host it can’t replicate. I think everyone should wear a mask. The idea is you’re protecting yourself and other people around you.”

Students are dropping like flies, and most of us know several people infected with Covid. In March of 2020 it was rare to know of somebody testing positive. 

Hodous also questioned how much money the district spent on the air filters now present in every classroom, “How much did all these air filters cost, what if everyone just wore a mask?”

The ‘Alen Breathesmart Classic True HEPA Air Purifier’ comes at a price of $649.00. Don’t be fooled though the actual filter is an additional $79.00. The air filters are said to remove over 99% of virus particles from a certain area within less than 20 minutes, but with the rise in covid cases who can be the judge of their effectiveness. 

As this virus so visibly spreads rapidly, what can we do to protect ourselves?

The answer is simple. Mask up, and get vaccinated!

As of Jan. 20, 76.33% of the Douglas County population is fully vaccinated. Breakthrough cases, although prevalent, are rare, and local hospitals and health officials recommend the best thing to do to protect yourself from Covid is to get your booster shot. 

Vaccination Rates via CDPHE. More vaccine data can be found here.

On vaccines, Hodous said,  “Why do you think we get a new flu shot every year, because the flu changes. It’s doing what a virus does. A virus is not a living organism, to keep itself alive it needs to find ways to change. We can stop it from spreading by not giving it a host and getting vaccines.”

Every US citizen 12+ years old is eligible for a free vaccine and booster. In addition, every US home is eligible for 4 free at-home rapid COVID-19 tests.

Camryn Montgomery, Online Editor

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Covid continues to sweep communities