Editorial: Hawkeyes, stay home or help out

Promoting large gatherings such as parties is harmful amid the COVID-19 pandemic. There are better ways to help combat this disease and unite with the community.


Jenna Galligan

The Old Capitol is seen on Thursday, March 12, 2020.

DI Editorial Board

A video shared on the public Barstool Hawkeyes Instagram account last week highlights a growing concern in Johnson County amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The video depicts individuals who appear to be University of Iowa students recreating the downtown Iowa City bar scene through filming in their home.

Members of the international community, federal and local government, and even social-media influencers are encouraging Americans to stay home, practice social distancing, and leave the house for only necessary errands.

In this unprecedented time, it is frustrating to see UI community members take such a threatening virus so lightly. The novel coronavirus may harm us or our loved ones. For millions of Americans, including hundreds of Hawkeyes, it has resulted in extreme unexpected financial hardship, making it difficult for people to pay rent or put food on the table.

The Daily Iowan Editorial Board understands wanting to find creative ways to have fun amid these trying times. There are better ways to cope with the challenges COVID-19 poses than promoting harmful coping methods such as drinking and depicting people enjoying gatherings rather than practicing social distancing, recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to contain the spread of COVID-19 to ease the burden on hospitals faced with treating an influx of patients.

The public shaming of college students has consumed numerous media outlets in recent weeks, as 49 University of Texas at Austin students returned from their spring-break trip to Cabo, San Lucas, Mexico and tested positive for COVID-19.

“If I get corona, I get corona. At the end of the day, I’m not going to let it stop me from partying,” remarked another young individual when interviewed on why he chose to spring break in Florida amid a pandemic. He has since rescinded his imprudent statement.

Early news of this pandemic gave the assumption that young adults were not at risk for COVID-19, but that was quickly disproved as reports showed that 20 percent of all coronavirus hospitalizations were for individuals between ages 20 and 44. The virus shows no immunity to younger people, who potentially run the risk of being asymptomatic carriers and unknowingly spreading the virus to others who may be more vulnerable to falling severely ill or dying from it.

Iowa does not currently have a shelter-in-place order. Johnson County, home to the UI campus, is one of three counties with the most COVID-19 cases, with 134 confirmed cases. It follows Polk County with 127 cases and Linn County with 186, the Iowa Department of Public Health reports. Needless to say, the threat of the virus is local for all Hawkeyes. Self-discipline is necessary now, more than ever, regardless of the lack of a shelter-in-place order.

Since the end of March, Iowa City Mayor Bruce Teague has emphasized adhering to Gov. Kim Reynolds’ disaster proclamation, encouraging social distancing and gathering in groups of less than 10 people.

It is a shame to see fellow students disregard the lives around them and celebrate naivety for social-media clout. Feedback in the comments section of the video include, “Take it from me who went to Iowa and lives in NY,” the state that leads the country in the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths. “I really hope y’all stop that. Learn from the college kids in Texas. Y’all ain’t immune trust me.”

As our generation is justifiably mocked and blamed for the novel coronavirus pandemic sweeping the country, we have a role to play in proving that, when asked to set up to the plate by staying home and staying safe, we can do it. So little is asked of us with the reward of getting back to routine as usual. If we cannot practice discipline now, the result can be costly and devastating.

Some UI students, though, are championing what it means to be in this effort to combat the pandemic together. They should be looked at as models for how to step up during this period of uncertainty.

Students running the UI Mobile Clinic are offering telemedicine appointments in order to serve the community while following social-distancing guidelines. Their work brings basic health care to members of the community that are uninsured or underinsured — a critical service for many at the moment.

For health-care workers on the front lines of this virus, some Hawkeye medical students are coming to the rescue by providing services such as babysitting, errand running, and meal prepping to assist those who cannot distance themselves from work and are needed to save lives affected by the virus.

Iowa football head coach Kirk Ferentz says it best: “We all want to get back to work and we miss our routine. But the bigger picture is that if we are not able to get back, that means we have bigger problems than missing football.”