3.5 Hours vs. Two Weeks?

To Our Students:

The first week of the spring semester went particularly well when it comes to the pandemic, with COVID-19 testing results to date showing a positivity rate of .27 percent—less than half the rate of the previous week.

But given U.S. health officials’ dire warnings about the importance of the next six weeks to begin to control COVID-19, this evening’s Super Bowl poses a particularly daunting challenge. Any of the typical kinds of events—in bars, restaurants or even residence hall suites—are highly likely to lead to new infections. Those in turn will mean moves to isolation and quarantine spaces, not only for people who attended, but also classmates and others with whom they come in contact early this week.

We write today to urge you to avoid in-person gatherings, and instead watch together virtually.

We appreciate that social engagement via Zoom or Google Hangouts pales considerably when compared to the energy of a room packed with fans cheering or groaning every turn in the game’s momentum. But are those three and a half hours (the Super Bowl’s average length) really worth two weeks of quarantine, or worse?

The National Basketball Association considers the risk so high that the league has directed players, coaches and all other employees to enjoy the game at home (or, if a team is on the road, inside their hotels). The National Institutes of Health’s Anthony Fauci has warned against them on almost every major television network. And the more contagious COVID-19 variant first discovered in Britain is now doubling its presence in the U.S. every 10 days.

Last month was the deadliest to date for deaths from COVID-19, accounting for 20 percent of the lives lost to the pandemic. But in recent days, the nation’s rates for cases, and death, have declined significantly. As vaccinations increase and cases fall, restrictions on our campus and elsewhere will slowly be able to ease. Please do your part to continue this promising trend—for yourself, for your classmates and for your university.

Lou Stark
Vice President for Student Affairs

Sara Lee, MD
Executive Director, University Health & Counseling Services