COVID-19 case decrease no excuse to ignore protocols

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Graphic of coronavirus floats inside box

Jack Baudoin, Columnist

There has been a decrease in COVID-19 cases in the state recently as vaccines continue to be distributed, but this amazing development does not mean people should become any more relaxed in following COVID-19 protocols.

On March 8, Chicago saw an all time low seven-day positivity rate of 2.8 percent, as well as a 6 percent decrease from last week in the number of cases reported per day, according to numbers reported by the Illinois Department of Public Health. 

The decrease in confirmed coronavirus cases could easily rise again if people do not follow health guidelines. As odd as it sounds, the decrease could become an increase, and there is evidence in the past of cases rising after they have gone down. In early July 2020, many areas of the state saw a flattening of new cases. After this happened, the IDPH released that the number of new cases in the state ended up increasing to 869 on July 2. This was the third day in a row that the number had increased. 

A lot of the spikes in cases were caused by younger generations who took the lack of cases as a sign to disregard protocols and return to life as they once knew before it was safe to do so. On June 30, 33.1% of the new cases in Illinois were patients in their 20s and 30s, according to  WBEZChicago. 

This generation is more likely to spend time with others in social settings, said NIU’s Public Health Program Coordinator Beth Squires. Even though it is tough, protocols have to continue to be followed if the world has any hopes of returning to normality.

“It is going to be very important to continue to wear masks and socially distance until we start seeing the numbers continue to go down,” Squires said. “We do not want to jump the gun. You want to still be vigilant until the numbers continue to decrease, so we do not see an increase.”

Over a year into the pandemic, people have become stir crazy because they’re unable to partake in activities and pastimes as they once were able to. As numbers across the country have decreased, protocols loosened, and people have begun to return to some normalcy. 

As the COVID-19 vaccine gets distributed more, these numbers will continue to decrease. 45.77% of people aged 65+ in the county have gotten vaccinated, as well as 10.34% of people ages 16-64, according to the IDPH. This is an amazing sign in ending the pandemic, and the country has let out a collective sigh of relief as they stepped back out into the world. While it is okay to branch out and begin to return to the way things were, people need to remain cautiously optimistic and continue to wear a mask and be socially distant, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Let us start going out in the community a little bit, safely,” Squires said.“Wear a mask when you are not eating and wash your hands frequently. I think that we should try, but if the numbers start going up, then expect that we might have to put more restrictions in place.”

Squires said there was a high number of cases in DeKalb in December, but cases have been going down since then. In order for this decrease to continue and for the pandemic to become a thing of the past, people have to continue to follow those guidelines.