Opinion | Shame should not stop transparency about COVID-19

Although there is a lot of fear and anxiety surrounding COVID-19, we need to be transparent about symptoms to protect each other.

Yassie Buchanan, Opinions Columnist

As COVID-19 cases rise in Iowa, it’s important to be cognizant of symptoms and transparent with the people around you to limit the spread of the virus.

At the beginning of the semester in one of my classes, as students, we talked about how it would be a good idea to commit to transparency if any of us had COVID-19 or symptoms. One of my peers raised their hand to say it’s not a moral failing to get COVID-19, and no one needs to be ashamed if they do.

Being comfortable with transparency is an important part of protecting our community. As of Dec. 9, just over 57 percent of Iowans are fully vaccinated. As we can see, there is a decent chunk of the population who are not protected against the virus.

Alarmingly, there are more people hospitalized for COVID-19 than there have been at any other point in the year. Out of all the hospitalizations, 74 percent are unvaccinated. Of those hospitalized and in the intensive care unit, 81 percent are unvaccinated individuals.

On top of this, the omicron variant has been detected in Black Hawk County. Fortunately for those vaccinated, research is being done and there is hope that the vaccines are largely effective against this variant.

With the holiday season, people will be doing a lot of traveling over break. As we have encountered before, safe travel can be complicated in the face of a pandemic because of the potential to be exposed to new groups of people.

An important factor in staying safe is being aware and transparent about possible COVID-19 symptoms. For many, it could be difficult to be transparent because of the fear and anxiety surrounding COVID-19. It can also be hard to confront symptoms because it is flu season and college campuses, in general, tend to be breeding grounds for a variety of illnesses. For example, many colleges have had to deal with measles, mumps, meningitis outbreaks, with the solution being to vaccinate students against these illnesses.

The most obvious measure for safety when it comes to COVID-19 is getting vaccinated and getting the booster if you are six months out from initially being fully vaccinated. While research is still happening on the effectiveness of the vaccines against the Omicron variant, Pfizer has come out saying receiving the booster, in particular, can neutralize this variant.

Aside from getting vaccinated and getting a booster if necessary, it’s important to monitor symptoms and be aware of those around us. If you have a fever, chills, runny nose, etc., there is a possibility it has nothing to do with COVID-19. But it’s better to contact those you have been around and get tested.

This same safety-first and transparency approach should be used if you have been in contact with someone who tested positive.

The University of Iowa and the state have put protecting the community in the hands of students. It’s important we are transparent about COVID-19 and don’t use shame to be silent about symptoms.

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.