EDITORIAL: This crisis is far from over — stop acting like it is

Participants walk around Aggieville during the 17th annual Chili Crawl on Oct. 20, 2018. COVID-19 cases have risen in Riley County as younger Manhattanites return to bars and other businesses where social distancing can be tough. (Archive photo by Kate Torline | Collegian Media Group)

In one weekend, Riley County added nearly 30 positives to its COVID-19 case totals — the single largest increase documented locally since the start of the pandemic. This is alarming, and we, as a community, should be paying attention. But, we aren’t.

More than 40 percent of Riley County’s positive cases are in people between the ages of 18 and 24 — college-aged individuals — and it’s no mystery why. Bars, restaurants and clubs in Aggieville have started to fill back up as people start to resume pre-pandemic activities like the crisis has been averted.

But it hasn’t. Not even close.

In fact, this careless disregard for science and other peoples’ lives has likely only exacerbated a problem local health officials and the community have done a pretty good job of keeping at bay.

For weeks, Riley County boasted lower-than-anticipated case numbers and a low degree of severe infections. The county didn’t document its first death until mid-May. All of that progress might have been wiped away in a matter of days.

As cases rise, the possibilities of tailgating, face-to-face activities and even in-person classes become more and more out of reach.

Even if the health department doesn’t issue a more restrictive order, we have to take personal responsibility for our actions and the impact they have on the well-being of those around us.

So stop it.

Stop acting like the worst is behind us. If we stay on this course, the worst is yet to come.

As local health officer Julie Gibbs said, “adjust to this new normal” — accept the fact that you might have to change your plans.

These sacrifices we are making now might feel unfair and like huge burdens, but they are steps we can take now to ensure a future that is closer to the lives we wish to get back to.

You know the drill — wear your mask, stay physically distanced and please, for the love of all that is good in the world, wash your hands.

The views and opinions expressed in this editorial are those of the Collegian editorial board. Please send comments to opinion@kstatecollegian.com.