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*Note: The Smoke Signal has based its analysis on a survey released to a random sample of MSJ classes on March 10.
Most students at MSJ are informed about COVID-19 and how severe the virus is. For example, 83.8% of the students surveyed said they actively follow news regarding COVID-19, and 60.4% said they fact check the information they read online. COVID-19 grows into an increasingly large health hazard each day; the fact that the majority of students seek accurate information indicates awareness and concern. However, not all students appear to have a complete understanding of the virus and its impact on the public; only 37.1% of students surveyed were aware that COVID-19 is a pandemic, and 42.8% knew that only about one out of five people have to be hospitalized due to being infected with COVID-19. Having a partial understanding of the virus can lead to the spread of misinformation and eventually contribute to unnecessary panic within the community. People who are more susceptible to getting the virus are the elderly and those with serious medical conditions. Hence, it is important to not only keep yourself healthy but to help prevent transmission, which can be accomplished with community awareness. It is vital for students to take an active role in the spread of accurate information to keep themselves and others safe and informed.
One of the most important aspects of staying healthy during this time is practicing good hygiene methods. Carrying hand sanitizers is a good method for on-the-go cleanliness, but only 45.8% of students follow this practice. Approximately 54.5% of students know someone who uses disposable masks to keep themselves safe, but according to US Surgeon General Jerome Adams, masks are not effective in preventing the general public from being infected by COVID-19. They should be only used sparingly for people of high vulnerability, such as seniors or people who deal with immunodeficiencies, those who are already sick, and those who have a higher chance of coming into contact with the virus, such as medical professionals. Washing one’s hands, not leaving your home unless absolutely necessary, social distancing, and eating healthy are key ways to keep oneself at a lower risk of getting infected. Data from the survey indicates that although a large part of the student body is well versed in preventative measures, many MSJ students lack a deep understanding of the massive impact COVID-19 can have on their own lives and instead see it as a global concern. Students should consistently update themselves with news from the CDC and the WHO to learn more about COVID-19’s current status and the necessary actions that need to be taken including the current shelter in place and the need for social distancing when you must be in public.
Graphic by Centerspread Editor Karen Li