Credit: Andy Sherar | Mustang News

Olivia Peluso is an English senior and Mustang News opinion editor. The views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of Mustang News. 

This is not how we thought spring break would look. For seniors, this is not how we anticipated spring quarter and graduation. For our Mustang News staff, KCPR DJs and Mustang Media Group staff, our events have dissolved, and we no longer gather as a team. As our Cal Poly experience shifts to virtual, we join several other states and nations in modifying our daily routines. Things got very real very quickly.

Initially, we held off on publishing an editorial about COVID-19. Last week, students were informed of changes in a lengthy and confusing thread of messages from President Jeffrey Armstrong, and we chose to wait for the news to settle before tackling a piece. Truthfully, I do not think this is an issue worthy of argument. There is nothing to be debated; we know the situation and understand the measures we must take as citizens to flatten the curve of the virus. At this point, it’s non-negotiable. Experts have shown where we are and where we are headed. In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom has decided for us how this is to be handled because people were simply not responsive enough to prior warnings and statistics, myself included. It’s better to act before we need to face a much harder reality of the virus, one that states like Washington and New York are dealing with right now.

“Social distancing” is a phrase that seems to already be losing its weight. It’s easy to throw around, but what actions have you taken to make it meaningful? I personally feel lucky to share a home with my best friends, which shows that distance doesn’t necessarily have to mean isolation. Yet, while we struggle, we’ve abstained from inviting other friends over or from gathering in an indoor space that isn’t our own. If you’ve left San Luis Obispo and returned home, you probably want to see your friends. If you chose to stay in San Luis Obispo, the urge to see others may be even stronger. College is a very social time, and it’s odd to feel your normal weekday and weekend routines disintegrate. However, it’s our responsibility to maintain integrity and caution in our practices for the sake of other community members. Despite the veil of immunity that people our age seem to operate beneath, we can get sick too. A CDC study shows that a high percentage of people our age have been hospitalized, too. We are certainly not invincible.

If you’re like me, you want things to go back to normal. You want to be able to invite your friends over for dinner again, you want to be able to hug people when you see them, you want to go to concerts and farmers markets and thrift stores again. The longer we are reckless in dealing with the virus, the further away normalcy drifts.

If we buckle down and stay focused on safety for the next few weeks, we could dodge some serious bullets in San Luis Obispo. Overthinking is not a bad approach — overthink which clothing you wear, what surfaces you interact with, what you touch in the grocery store. I’m personally focused on not biting my nails, and not wearing the same pair of jeans for days in a row. There is all something we can be a little better about, and it’s time to be sensitive of habits you may need to kill for the time being.

We still have access to the beaches and mountains that make where we live so incredible. Now is a time to utilize the outdoors with regards to others’ space, to take a meaningful break from partying, and to be self-aware of our impact on and duty to those with whom we share space.

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