The COVID-19 Pandemic: Where are we now?

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Photo by Isabel Bonebrake

A COVID-19 health sign outside the Raynor Memorial Library.

It has been 20 months since students packed their bags and were forced to go back home as a new infectious virus known as SARS-COV-2 took a slow and progressive toll on colleges and communities across the United States.

“For a few days after the school announced we would have an extended spring break, I thought we’d still come back to finish the semester,” Margaret Anagnostopoulos, a junior in the College of Nursing, said. “After hearing about all the other schools closing down I figured Marquette would do the same.

Since the COVID-19 virus was declared a global pandemic Marquette, along with other universities across the country are still making adjustments to battle against COVID-19. However, the effects of COVID-19 this year have been described as “less tolling” than last year.

“Compared to last year, our cases on campus are significantly lower,” Keli Wollmer, executive director & physician assistant at the Marquette University Medical Clinic, said. “This is due to our robust COVID-19 mitigation strategies. The indoor mask mandate coupled with high vaccination rates have been particularly helpful in decreasing the transmission of COVID-19 and number of cases on campus.”

In Milwaukee, On Nov. 30, 2020 the seven day average of COVID-19 cases was 884 cases. On Nov. 29, 2021 the seven day average of COVID-19 cases was 342. With the numbers decreasing, some still argue that life may still not be what it once was for a while.

“I feel like it’s getting back to normal,” Izzy Ward, a first-year student in the College of Communication said. “But we haven’t gotten fully back (to normal) yet in the sense of the fact that lots of people are still scared of the virus and there are still things like traveling that I don’t think will ever go back to how they were before.”

Currently, airports and airlines are required to follow and enforce federal mask mandates. Even with high vaccination rates and some states dropping local mask mandates, the federal mask mandate still requires compliance in federal locations. This includes public transportation.

As the winter season approaches, along with flu season, some students have mentioned that they have noticed themselves or their peers becoming more frequently sick.

“I definitely feel like I have been getting sick more often,” Athanasia Moshovitis, a first-year student in the College of Education, said. “I haven’t gotten COVID, but I think stuff like colds and coughs have been spreading really easily in the dorms.”

While some have noted that COVID-19 is still affecting campus initiatives, medical professionals on campus have noted that the community’s willingness to follow guidelines has been at the forefront of Marquette operations running as normal as possible.

However, these same professionals have mentioned that while it may be easy to get comfortable because of the campus’ 91% vaccination rate, the campus community cannot let their guard down.

“Overall, I think students have been following the guidelines. There is always room for improvement and I think there is COVID fatigue, not just on campus but in the greater community. Now is not the time to let our guard down and we encourage all students to continue to help mitigate transmission on campus and in the greater communities in which we are present,” Wollmer said.

COVID fatigue is the tendency to relax mask wearing and protocols as one eases into an environment.

Even though some have mentioned that for the most part Marquette students have been following the guidelines, some have stated that the city of Milwaukee should tighten up on their restrictions and that they are inconsistent with the rules on campus.

At the Al McGuire Center, where women’s basketball, volleyball and many other sports are played, masks are required. However, at Fiserv Forum, where the men’s basketball team plays masks are not required due to the fact that Fiserv Forum is an off campus facility.

As the Marquette community prepares for the beginning of the second semester, Marquette medical professionals have stressed that it is important that students continue to follow the guidelines and recommendations to continue to keep the university running as normal as possible.

Students can learn more about the COVID-19 pandemic and Marquette’s responses to COVID-19 by visiting the Marquette Medical Clinic website.

This story was written by TJ Dysart. He can be reached at theodore.dysart@marquette.edu