Two years of COVID-19

Two+years+of+COVID-19

“Since I am a nursing student, I see what happens behind the patients’ doors. It is a very dark reality that everyday people are suffering and dying through a horrible virus,” Alyssa Nowak, a junior in the College of Nursing, said.

It’s been two years since former President Donald Trump declared COVID-19 a national emergency. So, where are we now?

The White House announced March 2, 2022 the National COVID-19 Preparedness Plan to sustain and build on the progress that’s already been made and to aid America in moving forward safely.

The plan had four key goals: protect against and treat COVID-19, prepare for new variants, prevent economic and educational shutdowns and continue to vaccinate the world.

The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention is currently monitoring 10 COVID-19 variants and there are still two variants of concern, delta and omicron. They do not, however, have any variants classified as variants of interest or variants of high consequence, as of March 7. 

The CDC estimates that 43% of Americans have had COVID-19. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been 78,529,635 positive COVID-19 cases and 950,529 COVID-19 deaths in the United States, as of March 7.

Since the Marquette University COVID-19 Dashboard was established Aug. 21, 2020, there have been a total of 2,338 positive COVID-19 cases reported by students, faculty and staff.

As of March 7, Marquette University’s COVID-19 alert status is green, meaning less than 5% of COVID-19 tests are positive. There have been 14 positive COVID-19 cases in the last seven days and 43 in the last 14 days.

Due to the continued decline in community transmission and Marquette’s high vaccination and booster rates, Marquette announced that masks are optional indoors on campus beginning March 2. Marquette has required masks in public, indoor spaces on campus since the fall 2020 semester, in conjunction with the City of Milwaukee’s mask mandate that began June 9, 2020. 

“I understand why the university lifted the mandate given the infection rate on campus and the high vaccination rate, but I think it was lifted a little too soon,” Alvaro Clara, a junior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said. 

Wisconsin’s statewide mask mandate ended March 31, 2021 but Milwaukee County’s mandate ended more recently, March 1, 2022. 

“I believe lifting the mask mandate and providing students a choice leads to freedom and satisfaction because individuals with all types of beliefs are able to act on those beliefs, whether they choose to go maskless or remain wearing one,” Rosie Kyriakopoulos, a sophomore in the College of Education, said.

As of March 7, only three U.S. states still have a statewide mask requirement in place, regardless of vaccination status: Hawaii, Oregon and Washington.

“You’d think ‘better safe than sorry’ is the way to go with these types of problems, but apparently people are just super excited to act like the pandemic is over,” Kaiden Brinson, a senior in the College of Arts & Sciences, said. “The choice doesn’t feel like a safe move for the community, and I don’t feel safe because of that.”

Ninety-five percent of Marquette faculty and staff and 94% of students have uploaded proof of vaccination of the primary series. 81% of faculty and staff and 86% of students are up-to-date on their COVID-19 vaccines, meaning the primary series and the booster.

“I would say I feel safe because I am young and fully vaccinated, but it does kind of bother me when there’s people with a nasty cough,” Clara said. “In one of my classes today, this girl was coughing and I saw people that didn’t come to class with a mask on, put one on halfway through class because she was coughing so much.” 

As of March 7, 65.4% of the U.S. is vaccinated. Rhode Island is currently the state with the highest vaccination rate at 80.9% and Alabama has the lowest at 50.3%.

Wisconsin is currently ranked 22nd for percentage of population fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at 64.7% and 71.2% with at least one dose.

With easing mask mandates and social distancing guidelines, COVID-19 rates are trending down and two years later, experts are talking about what is being referred to as the new normal.” This means recognizing that COVID-19 is one of several circulating respiratory viruses and the world must learn to live with that in mind, such as lifting mask mandates like Marquette.

“Marquette is slowly returning to the place it once was, giving hope to those who have yet to receive the full Marquette experience,” Kyriakopoulos said.

This story was written by Bailey Striepling. She can be reached at bailey.striepling@marquette.edu.