Dealing with Pandemics

I don’t exactly feel confident in the federal government’s response to the coronavirus. It’s hard to have faith in administration that eliminated funding to the CDC’s Pandemic Response Team in 2018 as a cost-cutting measure. Placing faith in Vice-President Mike Pence to lead the fight against the virus causes shudders of disbelief as well: Pence’s policies as governor of Indiana resulted in an increase of HIV cases, and as late as 2000, as a Congressman, Pence wrote an op-ed that expressed doubts about the risks associated with smoking. You can’t merely pray a virus away.

Both of these men consistently express disdain for science, especially when data demands a conclusion they don’t like. Thinking about the issue has prompted several closer-to-home questions. To what degree do you think COVID-19 will affect Mississippi? Given the fact that MSMS students live in all parts of the state, is our school particularly susceptible to exposure? What policies and procedures should MSMS put in place for dealing with it?

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23 Responses to Dealing with Pandemics

  1. Guillermo says:

    I think that the effect of the coronavirus will depend on how much people are traveling. I think that in the event of a case, MSMS should either be temporarily suspended or temporarily quarantined (to keep the virus out). This is a case where MSMS can really benefit from it being a dorm school: The students don’t have to leave for the outside world. From there, we would just need to hope that the teachers don’t get it, so maybe make them teach in face masks or something of the sort.

  2. Gracie Rowland says:

    There have been around 15 confirmed cases of coronavirus in the US and more than 570 worldwide. Clearly, we are approaching a pandemic.

    I have absolutely no faith in our current president and vice president to deal with the issue. If “thought and prayers” can solve gun deaths and gun violence, and Flint, Michigan can go 1,462 days without clean water, I strongly doubt the capabilities of Pence and Trump to properly respond.

    As for MSMS, if the coronavirus comes near the school or into Mississippi, I recommend an immediate quarantine. Students should not return home as it could endanger them, and faculty may have to live on campus. Masks do not need to be worn unless the person has been previously exposed or has expressed symptoms such as cough, fever, and difficulty breathing. Our day to day activities would be able to proceed normally, with the exception of daily checkups and required hand washing.

  3. Alisha Burch says:

    Pence being in charge of this situation is Trump’s way of avoiding the blame when things go downhill. Trump doesn’t want to be held responsible for anything that happens concerning the coronavirus. The news is trying to pretend that Pence is going to be making medical decision, when in reality he’s just going to be running the team of doctors making the decisions. Pence is basically a kiss up to Trump and although I love and respect the Lord ALOT Pence’s response to this problem will probably be “Let’s pray.” After experiencing the previous outbreaks of sickness at MSMS and how quickly they spread, the coronavirus coming here means one thing. WE ARE DOOMED.

  4. Hailey says:

    Not only do MSMS students live in all parts of the state, but the families of MSMS students can be travelling to other countries or states with numerous cases of this virus. The school is located on a college campus on top of that. There are students from MSMS traveling to other states for education related purposes like Anaheim, California. California has numerous cases. I promote representation of MSMS internationally, but a few precautions could help avoid an outbreak. Even though soap and water is always the best option, hand sanitizer stations can be placed 20 floor tiles apart in Hooper’s hallways and around other buildings associated with MSMS like the dorms. As a volunteering opportunity, there can be a cleanup every Saturday with one sign up for the dorms and one sign up for the main academic building. During the set time for service, students can wipe down every door knob, light switch, elevator button, any railing, keyboards in the student lounge, markers and erasers used in the student lounge, school iPads, and anything else commonly used by the student body as a whole. It seems easy for someone to sneeze into their hand and use an expo marker in the student lounge as it is easy for someone to use the same marker and bite their nails while thinking or go to lunch without cleaning their hands. Students commonly place bookbags on the floor during class and lay the bookbags on their bed or the lunch table. As there is an emergency supply/hygiene closet for those in need of products for dorm life, there can be a stand at each end of both wings on each floor of the dorms strictly for facial tissue, disinfectant spray, hand soap, hand sanitizer, and Clorox wipes. They could be available to not only accommodate each wing of the floors, but to accommodate the ill that would not want to travel to the first floor lobby for a few supplies in the first place. Nobody wants to purposefully get another person sick usually. Being healthy comes with effort, and not everyone wants to spend the time to wash their hands, not eat after another, not drink after another, and clean daily to contribute to healthiness, so outbreaks of different origins and causes simply require a change of lifestyle and boosted effort. Hopefully with consideration of others and oneself, there will be an automatic increase of caution to avoid an outbreak anywhere within Mississippi.

  5. Emily Lin says:

    Having family who live in China, I understand how serious the coronavirus is. My grandparents say that they are too scared to even leave the house and the only thing featured on the news every day is of the virus. I don’t think thoughts and prayers alone will resolve the issue because people would continue on with their daily lives rather than finding ways to deal with the situation. And as for the coronavirus reaching Mississippi, I don’t think it would be as severe here since Mississippi isn’t as populated and busy compared to other states. However, if the coronavirus continues on, it would probably eventually affect Mississippi, meaning that we would be at risk since students at MSMS are from different parts of the state. I believe that there should be a quarantine or else the sickness can go both ways: a student who is at home may contract the virus and spread it to school, and students who catch the disease would go home and spread it to others in their town. We should be sure to wash our hands and be as sanitary as possible. Currently in China, students are not attending school, and teachers connect with them through technology. I believe that if the coronavirus reaches Mississippi, teachers here should not go to school in order to prevent risks, and though it would be hard, it is certainly not impossible to learn and communicate through computers and other devices.

  6. Aja says:

    Seeing that most of the people in the United States who have contracted Coronavirus got it because they were traveling abroad, we cannot completely rule out the chance that this state gets a case of its own. People travel all the time, and who knows, there could be a Mississippian on their way back from China right now.

    With all of us being from different parts of the state, we are more susceptible to the disease than if we stayed at a school where all of the students live within county limits. Let’s say that the first person to get the Coronavirus is from a coastal county. As a DeSoto County resident, I would not have a large chance of becoming COVID-19’s next victim (that is, with the proper quarantine precautions). In the event that someone in the school catches the disease, it obviously would not be safe for us to stay here and distance learning would have to be considered.

  7. Blake Cheater says:

    Mike Pence in charge of the Coronavirus in the United States does not inspire confidence in our federal leadership. He does, however, have experts advising him but I would personally feel more comfortable with an expert holding the reigns.

    COVID-19 does not appear to have a high mortality rate at around 2%, but that could change as more data pours in from other countries. Mississippi is particularly vulnerable as it does not have adequate infrastructure or the facilities to combat an outbreak. However, it is likely to spread to other states before Mississippi, so hopefully, by then, federal resources will be more available and in use. MSMS is extremely susceptible as it corrals students from all over the state into one location. Some students have family overseas or family that travels overseas who could unknowingly transmit the virus to them, and thus to the rest of MSMS. Let’s hope Mike Pence’s prayers work.

  8. Alyssa says:

    I believe this can go two ways in the South. one way is that it will spread like wildfire and affect the older generation the most. Or it could not be as dangerous as we thought just because we’ve rolled around in dirt a little more, which is very unlikely, but it it did happen with small pox. Our health system is broken all over America, but being that we are Mississippi and have a highly poverty rate, there are many people who simply just cannot afford to go to the doctor because of a copay, what makes anyone think that they could pay for a COVID-19 test? In all honesty, since this is on the verge of a pandemic, there should be no question of this being free or costing only a little, but that’s a bit radical.

    Precaution wise I think people should be a normal person, like me, and don’t drink and eat after people even if they don’t seem sick. Attempt to wash your hands before eating or touched your face. A lot of people say to throw away your tissue but a better option is to flush if you are near a toilet so that no one has to touch your germs, and gloves should definitely be dispersed to those that have to take out trash as work service. When coughing or sneezing it is much better to sneeze inside your clothes if you are prone to missing your inner arm so that less of your bodily fluids are air borne. Something that MUW and MSMS students should talk more about it making the cafeteria more sanitary. As a slight germaphobe, I have to try very hard not to think about the utensils I’m eating with or the plates I’m eating on, and don’t even get started on the tables. I think if they even just took the extra initiative to thoroughly clean the silver ware ans cups all would be great. I cannot say how many times I’ve picked up a dirty spoon or a cup with lipstick still on it. I know it would take more time, but think of how many less germs will be there where your lips are touching. Another thing that could change is how much food is touched my others that are not cafeteria staff, such as the self serve fries or desserts.

  9. Yin Hung says:

    The coronavirus is spreading quickly due to how many people travel and how many countries cannot restrict transportation. According to the John Hopkins report (the interactive digital map), there has been a total of 92,312 cases confirmed. Meaning due to the different types of transportation, many people could have it but due to how people tend to stay away from the hospital, many could go unreported. The United States tried to continue doing what they normally do for a normal disease. “Do not drink or eat after someone…cough into your arms…stay home if you are sick.” These do help a lot, but much is still unknown about the coronavirus and these methods have been in place for many generations, however, many people do not enforce this rule. There need to be more methods and more precautions in place fo this disease. Although scientists are trying to find treatments and make vaccines, the main way to try to prevent this is to have people quarantined unless they are confirmed to not have the disease. My mother just came back from China this Sunday and she has been quarantined for a certain amount of time so that we can know for certain that she does not have the disease. With more family members in China, my mother has told me how the streets were empty and how she and her family had to stay in and away from each other so that they can prevent the disease. The current health rules should still be enforced along with quarantining people who traveled to other countries so that the disease can try to be prevented. However, I would like to say that there is also a report that 48,190 cases have been resolved and those people have recovered. Although this is a good portion of the reported cases, people still need to take care of their health.

  10. Bryonie Mandal says:

    COVID-19 will no doubt spread in the Mississippi. It is already in Georgia and people are traveling to different places for spring break so the exposer is going to be there. However, there needs not to be a huge chaos. If there is chaos, more people will freak out and do irrational things which may lead to bad consequences. The mortality rate is very low and there isn’t a big urban area in Mississippi so there is no need to freak out but also make sure that there is some caution when vacationing.

    There need to be some precautionary steps where there is some safe place to give to people who have it a good place to recover. If we are talking about MSMS and MUW, there needs to be more sanitary precautions, ESPECIALLY in the cafeteria. MSMS should not invade people’s privacy, however. It was disheartening to see a forum out to ask people specifically where they are going, it should have been vaguer, for example just asking if they are leaving the country and if there are any cases of the COVID where they are. I am not confident in the leadership of the country, so there should be a bit worried about how much it’s going to spread and when they will have a cure. But right now we should be more hygienic.

  11. Tee says:

    I agree with Guillermo for the first part of his statement. I’ve never really taken any kind of virus seriously, but today I find myself washing my hands constantly and refraining from being too close to strangers. While the virus has yet to reach Mississippi, I think that if the virus doesn’t slow down anytime soon, it will reach Mississippi due to traveling. I think passengers on planes should wear protective masks and disinfect their seating area before the flight begins to minimize the chances of picking up anything.

    As far as the government’s response to the virus, I don’t have much faith in them either. This would be the time for the Pandemic Response Team to be fully funded again, but I have not read about this happening anywhere yet. My friend keeps me updated on how many current cases are in the United States, and that number doesn’t seem to be going down, so the time to act is immediately.

  12. Santayzia Anthony says:

    I believe Mississippi is at risk due to the close quarters that the students and faculty live in. I also think the timing of the outbreak is a factor being that spring break is approaching and it is the time to travel in and out of state.

    However, I honestly feel that there’s nothing we can do to “deal with it”. Because there is no way to cure this virus as of right now, the only thing we can do is maintain good health by having good cleaning habits (handwashing, etc).

  13. Mabrie says:

    As far as dealing with the outbreak as a school, we (in theory) are okay right now with just increasing precaution by cleaning more thoroughly, washing hands, and checking people if they exhibit symptoms. But, one thing the administration should take into consideration though if the virus get closer to home is faculty and students with chronic illness. For to most part, teenagers aren’t extremely susceptible to dying from the virus, but people with compromised immune systems would be (i.e. people with chronic illness who take daily medications). The question should be raised on how do we keep these students safe. It should also be discussed what would happen with faculty if cases show up in the state because they do not all live in Columbus meaning their chance of exposure is higher.

  14. Britton Phillips says:

    Mississippi as a state is at a decently low risk compared to other states in America. This is due to our extremely rural environment, so the virus will take longer to spread due a lower population density. On a small scale in a dormitory setting, such as MSMS, it could be a bigger issue. Because of MSMS’s huge diversity, traveling will be common over Spring Break. This could lead to a student contracting the virus, not showing symptoms, and spreading it to the rest of the student body.

    In my opinion, the only way to completely get rid of the chance of a mass outbreak at MSMS/The W is to offer online classes for every class. A group video program could be used for teachers to teach from the safety of their own home while students learn. Currently, the plan for MSMS is asking students to “self-quarantine” if they are traveling, and asking students going on the spring break trip with Ms. Heintz to record symptoms and temperature every day for 2 weeks when we return. This plan seems semi-ignorant of how this coronavirus spreads seeing how it can spread before symptoms appear.

  15. Alden Wiygul says:

    A few years ago our lives were put on hold with the outbreak of Ebola and its exposure to the United States. Now, though, Ebola is almost a worry of the past with the vaccine being approved in the US last December. I think it is wise to be cautionary and practice good health habits, but more than anything I think we just need to avoid overreacting. This virus is scary when you look at how easily it spreads, but it will pass soon. Our society has faced much more deadly diseases with a lot less preparation before and come out fine. If a case ends up in Mississippi it should definitely be dealt with accordingly, but one person being ill should not cause a shut down of the entire state. We just have to be careful now and in a few months the news will be covering some new world threatening event.

  16. A sleep deprived student says:

    One of the leading causes of the spread of COVID-19 is the vast number of people traveling across the world and visiting areas in which the coronavirus has already spread. This is a concern for Mississippi and may cause the coronavirus to infect more of Mississippi than what most people would expect. We are in close proximity of the Memphis International Airport, which has high potential for possible carriers of the virus to arrive at. The close proximity to the international airport and the standing fact that not many people wish to get tested for COVID-19 as they feel it to be relatively harmless at the time being may cause Mississippi to be susceptible to the spread of the virus.

    However, I feel as if MSMS students have a high chance of not contracting the virus, at least during normal school procedure as the dorm lifestyle causes us to be relatively isolated from many of the happenings. I will concede though that during spring break many people will be traveling and could potentially contract the virus in their travels, but the faculty already has implemented a 14 day quarantine for these students upon the end of spring break.

  17. Tejus Kotikalapudi says:

    The main strength of the corona virus, according to the data we have so far, is not its ability to kill people. The real danger of it comes from the fact that it can be transmitted very easily through proximity. This being said, I believe that most Mississippians will not have to worry about the virus that much considering that less than 20% of them have passports. However, the MSMS is in a unique situation. Because of the residential environment, if one student goes out of state and contracts the virus, everyone will get it and with the upcoming trips out of the country, the threat is real. So far the administration has done a good job of bringing awareness to the threat by going through classes and explaining the problem, but I think the only way to make sure everyone in the school doesn’t get it is to separate the afflicted from everyone else.

  18. Chandler Bryant says:

    I have little faith in our administration’s ability to keep the interest of our nations health first. Mike Pence most likely doubted the dangers of slinging phat darts because of lobbying of the tobacco industry. Hopefully, our nation would come first in the presence of a Corona virus outbreak. Pence and Trump have previously shown a problem with a conflict of interest in their own businesses and the country. Corona should most definitely take priority now.

  19. Jane says:

    COVID-19 has clearly affected Mississippi in unimagined ways. Two weeks ago, the idea of online classes and heavy social distancing was far off and lacked the prominence that it does today. There are now 12 reported cases of COVID-19 in Mississippi, and these numbers are sure to rise in the coming days. Because at this point, the continual spread of this disease is inevitable. It’s made a prominent enough display of it’s prowess, and with the U.S.’s lack of testing, it’s really hard to pinpoint the most problematic areas within Mississippi. With this in mind, it’s important to stay calm and not lose our heads over this disease. There’s been a lot of panic in the state already (as seen by the absence of toilet paper in stores), but we can do a lot more if we stay calm, vigilant, and as healthy as possible throughout this whole ordeal (Film).

  20. Piper Britt says:

    I feel like we could be doing more to stop the spread, I am not really sure what that more is, but I know that we are not doing all that we possibly can. And MSMS and every other college are very susceptible to the virus because not only do we have people from all over the state (and families that travel) but we are also in a dorm environment, where it is incredibly easy for any illness to spread rapidly. However, with all this yucky if you have been keeping up with the news you know that China has not seen any new cases and that South Korea’s infection rates are falling as well.

  21. Josh Bates says:

    Well to start, I am obviously writing this much later than the question was posted, so I have a lot more knowledge on what has actually happened in Mississippi. Despite being underpopulated and isolated, Mississippi feels like nothing but free for the taking when it comes to the coronavirus. People here are in poverty, and therefore lack the proper health care to have confidence in going to the doctor. As of right now, there are 50 cases of the virus in the state, yet a week ago we had our first. I do not believe that the virus has actually spread across the state that fast; instead, I see this as evidence that people in Mississippi are afraid to go to the doctor to get tested for the virus due to financial concerns. The hardest impacted region of Mississippi proves to the the coastal region. This made the board’s decision to close MSMS a smart one, for it is also one of the regions of the state that we get most of our students from. However, its hard to believe that this early closing of schools is still the best decision for say the Scott County School District. That county is isolated from most cases of the virus and schools are an essential part of the lives for many children in the area. For students in low-risk areas, closing schools not only limits their education (which I am sure is not great to begin with), but many of the students that are in those schools also thrive on those hours because they pull them away from bad homes and provide them with food. This is all not to mention the fact that many public schools in the state cannot provide laptops for all their students, not to mention trying to convert all of their classrooms to online and continue keeping failing students engaged. As for MSMS, we’ll be fine, but other schools and their students are likely to suffer from the decision to close schools. I not exactly saying that it was the wrong thing to do, but it was a little too quick.

  22. Jordan says:

    Yikes I’m a little late. It is obvious that what is being put in place now simply is not working. Though it may seem drastic, a national lockdown, just like china and italy, is necessary. Recommending everyone stay home isn’t working because people are stupid.

  23. Trevor says:

    Looking back at this post now after the U.S. was announced to have the most cases of Covid-19 shows how well our government is handling this crisis. Yes, the economy can not go into shut down, but through social media, I see people getting together just for FUN. This is no time for fun, obviously, and I propose a way to fix this misconception that Covid-19 is another country’s problem and not ours as well.

    Fixing the public’s view of the pandemic could be done in a way similar to how the government handles anti-smoking ads through its use of scary images/ideas. Fear drives many of the actions that we take, as seen by the toilet paper crisis (thanks Karens). I propose a set of ads, run by the U.S. government showing the situation as it is in our hospital system, specifically, in hard-hit locations like in New York to try to wake the population out of its slumber if ignorance. Ar the same time, there will be a fine line that the government would have to take, as to not wake the population up and cause them go in to a panic-fueled craze.

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