“Return to Normal” And How it’s Failed

Simon Scannell, Editor-in-Chief

After over a year having the pandemic shut down almost everything in our lives, it’s looking like a “return to normal” is on the horizon. But with the premature easing of restrictions, this might not be the case.

In April, Governor Kate Brown eased restrictions in much of the state. But in the Portland-Metro area, this decision seemed unwise because many people took this to mean that there were no restrictions. During this time, I frequently saw little to no people in the downtown Gresham area wearing their masks. And going to Main City Park on a sunny day with more than 30 people there, I saw maybe four people wearing masks, including me.

Obviously I can understand the want for things to return to “normal”, but the rate at which people in the community are doing that in an unsafe way is astounding. As of April 30th, Oregon has the highest rate of new infections and hospitalizations of any state in the US, according to the CDC. This is obviously very worrying for many people, even with more and more people getting the vaccine. So Governor Kate Brown decided that some counties that were facing the largest amounts of COVID-19 cases would be elevated to “extreme risk”, which limits indoor dining, among other things. But not even a week later, Brown announced that Multnomah County (and others that were deemed extreme risk) would be moved down to high risk instead. That same day, she was sued by an individual and multiple organizations for moving counties to extreme risk. The change to high risk seems extremely counterintuitive, especially since as a state we’ve reached over 500 new COVID-19 cases (and going up to 800) per day in the last week or so.

The effects of this are frustrating and will almost undoubtedly cause people to believe that COVID-19 is not as much of a danger as it used to be. Even with so many people vaccinated, it’s evident that this is going to be a big issue and lead to another surge in cases, which we’ve seen in just the past week with cases going from 300 per day to over 800 per day in less than a week.

In a poll I did on my instagram story a couple of weeks ago, only half of respondents (ages 16+) said that they had received their first COVID-19 shot. And half of those who said that they hadn’t said they were not signed up. It’s incredibly important that we all do our job to protect both ourselves and others by getting our COVID-19 vaccine.

The Food and Drug Administration will soon allow 12-15-year-olds to receive the Pfizer vaccine. This means that every single high school student should be looking into getting their COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks. This will help stop the spread of the virus in our communities as well as minimize the virus’ impact on vaccinated individuals should they get it.