Opinion | Opening bars will create even more problems

If we open bars in Iowa again, it will only cause COVID-19 to spike yet again and prolong this never-ending pandemic.


Kate Heston

The JHC posts signs announcing bar closure in Iowa City on Thursday, August 27th, 2020. Governor Kim Reynolds announced that bars must close at 5p.m. to help with COVID.

Hannah Pinski, Opinions Columnist

For the past few weeks, COVID-19 cases at the University of Iowa have improved. The 14-day rolling total of positive cases in Johnson County on Sept. 23 was 363, down from 708 a week ago on Sept. 16. The positivity rate dropped from 50 percent in mid-August to the single digits. That same day, 31 new cases were reported in a three-day period, a far cry from when new campus case counts topped triple digits.

However, there is a foreseeable problem that could move us back to square one — reopening the bars too soon.

Last week, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds decided to extend bar closures in Johnson and Story Counties to Sept. 27, but decided to open them back up in Black Hawk, Dallas, Linn and Polk Counties.

While there is a concern for these local businesses to be able to remain functional post COVID-19, this move will create more problems not only for the UI but for the greater Iowa City area.

The sad truth is that college students don’t make the best decisions. We have already seen the effects of bars remaining open in the beginning of the year when reported cases were in the triple digits. At one point, the UI saw an increase of over 500 cases within a week. Hawkeyes are a big driver for Johnson County seeing high positivity rates.

If bars open and cases spike again, professors will have to move back online just like they had to in the beginning of the year. These businesses do need support, but there are other ways other than just reopening them, such as government aid and funding.

I still see people refusing to wear a mask outside, so how do we expect them to avoid large gatherings when they can’t do the bare minimum?

Reprimands from the UI don’t work either. No matter how many times they tell us to make good decisions and that it’s our responsibility to keep the community safe, some people still think that a night out is worth risking the lives of others.

It’s not a matter of refusing to live in fear, as some people have said. Some students are just blind to the fact that their choices have an impact on others where they are paying the consequences for their actions.

There’s no vaccine yet, and there probably won’t be one for a while. Yet people seem to think they get to decide that COVID-19 is no longer a concern, despite the heartache and fear that many families have had to live through the past six months.

House parties are still happening. Social distancing and wearing a mask in public is still not being followed. We don’t need to add another catalyst for poor decision making. Especially when we have already seen the consequences of them being opening in the beginning of the school year.

It’s bad enough that students aren’t following current precautions to stop the spread of the virus. If bars reopen, there will be more problems on top of struggling local businesses. There are other methods local businesses can be supported that don’t have to risk the lives of people in Iowa City because of irresponsible decisions.

Columns reflect the opinions of the authors and are not necessarily those of the Editorial Board, The Daily Iowan, or other organizations in which the author may be involved.