Outdoor parties can wait until the pandemic ends

Illustration by Lauren Johnson

Ishaan Nandwani, Contributing Writer 

It’s my favorite time of the year: spring. Warm weather, blooming flowers and a pervasive aura of tranquility — what’s not to love? Personally, I’ve been taking advantage of the weather by going on walks and studying outside more, soaking in the warm sun at Monroe Park while studying enzyme-catalyzed biochemical reactions.

While it’s important for all of us to spend time outdoors and make the most of the spring weather, it’s essential to not become too relaxed with COVID-19 precautions. In the last week alone, I’ve noticed a dangerous trend of large groups gathering in local destinations, including a volleyball game of approximately 20 students in Monroe Park and an outdoor barbecue party at Maymont Park.

While these spring activities are often tradition and we’re all desperate for a return to normalcy, we must not forget the global pandemic that continues to devastate our world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been more than 74,800 reported cases of COVID-19 since March 20. Moreover, as the virus has become more widespread, experts have noted an increase in variants of the disease.

While the temptation to gather outside is at an all-time high, we must continue to be cautious of the public health implications of these actions. We can’t turn a blind eye and expect that everything will be OK. The COVID-19 pandemic is still a threat, and cases could skyrocket again.

One personal issue I’ve dealt with during this time is having conversations with friends who often have different ethics than me when it comes to the pandemic and gathering in large groups. Simply put, there are many people who are ready to move on with their lives, citing vaccinations, the improved weather and lowered rates of the virus as a justification for gathering in large groups.

There is a common misconception that COVID-19 can’t be contracted outdoors, but health experts say this is not the case. According to the CDC, large events and gatherings should still be avoided when possible.

While many people are finding their way to a vaccine, not everyone has been vaccinated. Therefore, the threat of spread is still very present. On April 18, Virginia will move into Phase 2 of the vaccination plan. This means that anyone over the age of 16 is eligible to receive the vaccine.

Now is not the time to get complacent — the end of the pandemic is almost here, and we must ensure that we are all on the same page so that we can spend time together in the future. 

Your parties can wait a little longer.

To those of you who are having those critical discussions with loved ones surrounding the implications of large gatherings, stand your ground. Encourage the people around you to put their personal interests aside, for the betterment of our community. It certainly isn’t easy, but it’s necessary.

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