We’re vaccinated — why do we have to be masked, too?

Michael Sicoli, Editor-in-Chief

On Aug. 2, Quinnipiac University reinstated a mask mandate for all students regardless of vaccination status for indoor campus spaces, including classes. 

To put it bluntly, I just can’t do this again.

Photo by Jernej Furman

After beating the drum for exercising precautions and praising the university for mandating the COVID-19 vaccine, I’m utterly shocked that masks are on their way back. The vaccine has offered Americans the luxury of safety from COVID-19 — the ability to make the virus a punch in the arm rather than a knockout blow — yet we are treating the vaccine as if it’s not enough.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but COVID-19 was never going to go away. It is here to stay. The vaccine relegates the dangers of the virus to a flu-like state at worst to the vaccinated.

It’s true that COVID-19 cases are on the rise again thanks to people refusing vaccination due to a swarm of misinformation. But here at Quinnipiac, there is a vaccine mandate. Each of us has protection from COVID-19. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over 99.99% of fully vaccinated Americans have not died or been hospitalized due to COVID-19 — that’s less than .001% who have died from COVID-19. There have only been 6,587 breakthrough COVID-19 cases as of July 26 in the United States among the fully vaccinated. Less than .004% of those resulted in hospitalization. Perhaps most importantly, about 74% of those 6,587 people were over 65 years old, an at-risk population that is extremely small here at Quinnipiac.

So, if our health is not at risk because we all, unless exempt, took the pledge to stop the virus and get vaccinated, why issue this mask mandate now?

When the university mandated the vaccine on May 26, I quickly took to this platform to praise Quinnipiac President Judy Olian for her decision. It came with controversy, but I was proud of a university that took every step possible to ensure my college experience would be a normal one. 

But mentally, I can’t get over the fact that I must wear a mask in the gym, in my classes and in the media suite during my eight-hour deadlines with The Chronicle. Like many others, my mental health has been drained to a dangerous level over the past year. Bringing this mandate back just amps up the anxiety as we stray further away from normalcy.

Learning to live with COVID-19 means more vaccinations, which the university graciously made possible. It doesn’t mean reinstating policies when the health risks are so ridiculously miniscule to a vaccinated Quinnipiac. I should be able to enter another’s dorm room unmasked when surrounded by vaccinated people. As I wrote in May, I want my college experience back.

I’m thankful that outdoor activities remain maskless. I am thankful that, as of publication, no other restrictions have been announced. I still am proud to be a Quinnipiac Bobcat who should still have a much more free college experience than the year prior, masked or not.

While wearing a mask should be an accepted practice in today’s world, forcing a mask upon a vaccinated population should not be.