By Connor Lannen
Since COVID-19 hit America in March, not much has looked the same and there have been massive adaptations that everyone has had to make to their everyday lives. All public schools and colleges across the country were closed for the remainder of the school year, however, the virus did not just disappear in the months leading up to this school year and seeing the effect COVID-19 has had on colleges and universities, as well as the students attending has been a major point of concern ever since classes started in late August.
“They need to take this seriously, they need to listen when we are telling them to socially distance themselves,” said Steve Kelso, an employee at the Kent County Health Department. “They need to do the things required like, not going to parties, wearing masks, and washing hands.”
Kent County has been hit the hardest with COVID-19 compared to the neighboring counties, with nearly triple the amount of cases as the next highest, Ottawa County. The age group that has made up the highest percentage of those cases is the 20-29 year old age group.
“We are very concerned that the 18-25 year old age group is not taking this very seriously because the attitude is that they will be okay, but they are not realizing that it is not okay to spread it amongst the community,” Kelso said.
There are many people with differing opinions regarding how college students are handling COVID-19, however, there are many people that have the same opinion as Kelso in that college students are not doing everything necessary in order to stop the spread of the virus. Regardless of where your opinion on the matter lies, the pandemic is infecting lots of college students as college is a much more social setting than other places. Analyzing how the virus is affecting college students is an important thing to do for many parties involved.
“I had very mild symptoms, a slight fever and some allergy-like symptoms for no more than three or four days,” said Rachel Johnston, a junior at Grand Valley State University.
Another big concern with this virus is the lasting effects that occur after recovery.
“I haven’t noticed any outlying lingering symptoms since I was cleared by the Health Department,” Johnston said.
A major question and fear for many currently is regarding how the colleges and universities are handling positive COVID-19 cases from students.
“All of my professors were very understanding and helpful during the time I couldn’t attend class,” said Johnston. “I did have some concern with how the university handled my case as they notified me about my COVID-19 diagnosis before the health department even did, which was a little bit concerning to me.”
Personally, I also had COVID-19 and had very similar symptoms and experiences as Johnston did. I actually never had a fever and had allergy-like symptoms for two or three days. All of my classes were virtual so the positive test did not affect my schoolwork very much. The one point of concern that I had was similar to Johnston, in the process of getting my results. It took nearly an entire week to acquire my results and I was not contacted by the health department until nearly a week after getting my results. Everyone’s experiences with the testing process has been different, however, it is still worth noting these unusual experiences.
Unfortunately, the symptoms and effects of COVID-19 on college students have not been as mild for everyone as they were for Johnston and I.
“My symptoms lasted about 10 days and I had loss of taste, loss of smell, cough, headache, and tiredness.” said Jayden Price, a sophomore on the football team at Ferris State University. “Taste and smell are still gone but coming back slowly.”
Due to the chance of lingering symptoms and side effects, Price is unable to practice with FSU’s football team.
“I am still not cleared for practice or conditioning because apparently COVID can cause lingering symptoms that can cause lingering issues for your lungs and heart, so when you are an athlete you have to get more tests to be cleared to participate,” said Price. “I have to get a lot of heart tests from cardiologists to make sure I am able to compete in the future.”
Clearly, there are many different experiences that college students with COVID-19 are having and it is important to note some have had a worse case of the virus than others.
“We can test our way through this until a vaccine is made available, but if we keep spreading this virus around, I am concerned that we are going to see a bad trend through the rest of fall and into winter,” said Kelso.
There are still many unknowns regarding the COVID-19 virus and it is crucial to stay informed regarding any updates that doctors and scientists, as well as local health officials, come out with as we continue to live in this masked society.