As someone who lives year-round in a college town, I am terrified for fall semester.
On August 24, Penn State students are set to flock back to University Park and, as a local resident, I'm terrified.
About a week ago, out-of-towners swarmed downtown State College for "Arts Fest Weekend" even though Arts Fest was canceled because of Covid-19. Bars had lines around the corner, there was no social distancing, and virtually no masks to be seen.
Cue the ominous music.
For the college students coming back, State College, PA is Penn State, blue and white football nation. For those of us who live here, State College is Home. If the numbers here spike, we can't leave. There is no home to go to for social distance learning because State College is our home.
Refusing to wear a mask on campus is a refusal to care about the university you love.
If coronavirus (COVID-19) spikes, Penn State will have to go back to distance learning. The activities you love will once again be put on hold. None of us want that.
Penn State is the largest employer in Centre County with more than 17,000 full-time employees. Think about their health and safety when you say you won't wear a mask. Housing and Food Services are responsible for protecting students from the pandemic and also ensuring every student has accessible housing and food options. OPP has to maintain the buildings on campus to make sure they're safe. Professors have to figure out how to teach their students without compromising anyone's health. Their livelihoods are at stake.
What might seem like just one party could lead to passing on a disease you didn't know you were carrying to dozens of other people.
If the majority population of Penn State does not wear a mask and COVID-19 spikes, I can't say for sure that our local hospital could handle it. We're a small town with small-town resources.
Penn State may make you feel like you're safe from the pandemic (as some of my own friends have said to me: "That won't happen at Penn State! It's Penn State!"), it has finite resources. There are so many issues with that kind of thinking, but inarguably, it's destructive to the vitality of the university.
None of this is easy, but you wearing a mask will make it just a little bit easier.
Masks are not comfortable, but they are necessary. Seatbelts are not comfortable, but they are necessary. We don't hear anyone complaining about the point of seatbelts, but back when they were first legally mandated there was a similar outrage to the one we see about wearing masks. Masks have a point.
Protect Penn State. Wear a mask.
We Are Penn State.
We Are Flattening The Curve.