Along with the typical cold and flu seasons this winter, COVID-19 is still prevalent, and COVID-19 cases have risen recently on campus and in Mississippi.
According to the Mississippi State Department of Health, there have been 3,594 COVID-19 cases reported between Feb. 7 and Feb. 13 in Mississippi. Thirty-nine new deaths were also reported.
“We can confirm a slight increase in COVID-19 cases around the state and at University Health Services. Luckily, we are able to provide treatment, and the cases have been mild,” Director of University Health Services Alex Langhart said.
According to Langhart, there are ways people can protect themselves and others from COVID-19, including wearing a mask and social distancing.
“It is important to take extra precautions, especially during cold and flu season or when there is an increase in upper respiratory illnesses in our area,” Langhart said. “Practice social distancing by avoiding crowded indoor spaces and staying at least six feet away from others. Wear a mask to protect yourself from breathing in or expelling virus particles.”
Some students did not know that COVID-19 cases have risen. Hannah Dear, a junior international studies and Spanish major, said this pattern is common.
“(Cases) are always spiking and falling. Such is the nature of a mutating virus, I suppose,” Dear said.
Even with the lifts in mask mandates, there are still students, faculty and staff wearing masks on campus. Sophomore public policy leadership major Mateos Lozano said he still consistently wears a mask outside his apartment, other than when eating or drinking.
“I still think COVID-19 poses a present danger, and I want to protect myself as well as my family at home. The last thing I want to do is to bring an illness back to my family after I come home from break,” Lozano said. “I am not sure when I will stop wearing a mask since COVID-19, at this rate, will likely never go away. To be honest, I have not really thought about where the cut off point is for me.”
It is unclear how the pandemic is going to look long-term.
“We will continue to see outbreaks as variants continue to circulate, but the hope is that vaccination, natural immunity and improvements in treatment will keep the disease in a more manageable state like the seasonal flu,” Langhart said.