The theme of this issue is Looking Forward: A new year. A new term. We chose this theme because we—as an Oregon State University community, as Corvallis, Ore. citizens, as Oregonians and as a nation—have a lot to be hopeful about. We also have a lot of opportunities to come together and change the course of the pandemic and the narrative of 2021.
There are a lot of things that could have been done differently—better—in 2020 to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, but this issue is about looking forward, so what can we all do to conquer COVID-19 in the new year?
Stay informed and educate others; wear your mask and stay home; take care of yourself and value mental health; look out for each other and keep the community’s best interest in mind; and most importantly, don’t lose hope.
First and foremost, the best way to get ahead of the virus and protect yourself and others from it is to educate yourself on the crisis our nation is going through together, and then educate those around you. Using reliable and fact-checked sources, research what COVID-19 is, what its symptoms are, how fast it spreads and why, how to slow the spread and what to do if you think you have contracted the virus. We say ‘reliable and fact-checked sources’ because you should not believe everything you read or hear about the coronavirus. There is a lot of misinformation that is being spread regarding COVID-19.
Remember that this virus affects everyone, not just you, and may even impact certain communities more than others. Try to remain cognizant of the communities who are struggling more than others, such as BIPOC communities and low-income families.
We need to do our parts as individuals to protect our communities and look out for our neighbors. If you have the privilege and opportunity to help others who are struggling, donate money or resources to local food banks, churches, homeless shelters and programs that are dedicated to supporting people who have been negatively affected by the pandemic.
Other ways to support your community include eating and shopping locally—utilize curbside pick-up and take-out orders if possible, and donate to small businesses when you can.
Two of the most important ways to slow the spread of COVID-19 is to wear your mask and stay home as much as possible. It’s definitely difficult to stay home, to not see friends and family and to not be able to do all the things you used to, but skipping that small get-together with your friends can potentially save someone’s life.
We all have to make sacrifices for the greater good. If truly locking down and sacrificing our normalcy for a few months means defeating COVID-19 and shortening the wide-spread suffering that follows in its wake; we think that’s worth it. By the time of publication, coronavirus will have been around for nearly a year. Staying home in 2021 could make the difference between another few months and another year of living in this pandemic.
If you need to step outside to buy groceries or simply for your own sanity, please do so, but be cautious and smart about it. Keep as much distance as possible between yourself and others, carry hand sanitizer with you and always wear a mask. Do not let your guard down just because this is our new ‘normal.’
Wearing your mask and wearing it properly not only protects you from the virus but also protects those around you. Do your research; some types of personal protective equipment is more effective than others because some protect you from COVID-19 but can put others at risk, take a face shield for example.
When worn on its own, it protects the wearer—but if the wearer has the virus, their respiratory droplets can easily escape the bottom of the shield and infect others. But, pairing a face shield with a standard surgical mask underneath can significantly reduce the risk of contracting and spreading the virus.
While prioritizing the physical health of yourself and others, don’t neglect mental health. Find ways to take care of yourself during this stressful time. Step away from your computer if you’ve been staring at your screen for too long, give yourself a break if you’re starting to feel stressed, and try to remember that this pandemic has taken a major toll on the mental health of so many people; so, if you are struggling, know that you are not alone.
Your mental health and well-being whether in a pandemic or not is so incredibly important. Don’t forget to take a break every once in a while, use the resources around you and rely on your friends and family. Chances are, they might be feeling the exact same way. Seek some human interaction and reach out to those around you, even if it’s just through a screen. If someone you know is struggling, let them know you’re there.
You can learn more about Oregon State University’s Counseling and Psychological Services on the CAPS website. We are all going through a hard time, and sometimes we need help. You are strong and you can make it through this.
We will all make it through this. This is a new year and a new term; there is a new vaccine on its way to you, and there is hope that we will beat this pandemic together. Do not lose that hope. We are nearing the end of the tunnel and are finally seeing some light, but that doesn’t mean we can let our guards down now. This is the time to do everything in our power to stop the novel coronavirus from devastating our communities any longer.
Up-to-date COVID-19 news and coverage can be found on The Daily Barometer website.