Letter From the Editor: How to safely transition into a ‘new normal’ this summer

Oregonians everywhere are waiting to see what the summer time looks like for Covid-19 prevention. Recent updates to the plans for battling the Covid-19 pandemic are on the horizon.

Adriana Gutierrez, Editor-in-Chief

Across the nation, Americans are outdoors, participating in all of the summer festivities that were shut down when the COVID-19 pandemic first began. Here in Corvallis, Ore., Oregon State University students are lining up by the Willamette River to go tubing and flooding Monroe Avenue on Friday nights with the same phrase in mind: “We are finally getting back to normal!”

While the Baro editors are also looking forward to a “new normal,” we want to first encourage our readers to play their part in responsibly moving into this next chapter of our lives—one without the fear of COVID-19. 

Our new editorial team consisting of Patience Womack, a fifth-year psychology major and education minor; Angela Tam, a fourth-year history major; Jessica Li, a fourth-year pre-dental chemistry major and writing minor; and myself, will be working this summer to continue The Baro’s goal of reporting accurate news regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. While our reporting is consistently unbiased, I wanted to take this time to speak on behalf of our team about our own personal hopes for the summer, specifically

regarding community vaccinations. 

First and foremost, we should recognize it is our responsibility as community members to get vaccinated and to help the state of Oregon reach herd immunity. Once Oregon reaches its 70% goal of residents fully vaccinated, the virus’s transmission threshold won’t be able to be reached as easily. It is in this way that we can uphold our responsibility to protect ourselves and those around us, including certain individuals who aren’t able to receive the vaccine due to medical reasons.

The Mayo Clinic describes this process regarding  COVID-19 vaccinations as one of our only ways to bring down the spread of COVID-19 related deaths. The alternative is 70% of the population contracting the virus in order to build personal immunity, which is a far more dangerous choice when provided with an option of a one or two-dose vaccine shot. 

Signing up for a vaccine is relatively simple, and can be done through your healthcare provider, local pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens as well as through different forms of vaccination clinics provided on local county levels.

Over the past academic year, OSU has partnered with community health organizations like Samaritan Health Services to make opportunities available for Benton County residents to get vaccinated, including mass vaccination clinics at Reser Stadium. These have shown to be extremely effective, reaching thousands of OSU students and faculty members who are now fully vaccinated. 

Over the summer, Corvallis will be seeing a new set of vaccination efforts, targeting the rest of the Oregon population yet to be vaccinated. Baro News Contributor Kelsy Valentine writes about these express clinics in this issue, and how the Oregon Health Authority will be working to serve underrepresented groups that have not yet had opportunities to get the vaccine.

In Valentine’s coverage on the new clinics, Lead Communications Officer at the Oregon Health Authority Johnathan Modie said “Members of the BIPOC community—Black, Indigenous, people of color, our travel communities… They’re community-based organizations that serve all of those, and we want to make sure they have vaccines so they can provide those when someone comes in.”  

We echo the sentiment provided in Modie’s quote, and as a person of color myself, I personally recognize our BIPOC communities in Oregon with less access to these vaccines and will make it a priority for “The Barometer this summer to continue to promote vaccination efforts geared towards underserved communities. 

As of June 25, Benton County has already reached 70% herd immunity, with 71.4% of residents above 16 fully or partially vaccinated. Due to this, the county has officially been reopened in what appears to be the best time of year. Restaurants, bars and recreational businesses no longer require masks inside, and large groups of people can gather yet again. But even in the midst of this excitement, we must remember that this privilege of being unmasked in public settings should only come to those who are vaccinated, in accordance with the CDC’s new guidelines. 

As of June 30, Oregon has officially reopened, and so has OSU. Vaccinated students now have the option to enter school buildings and facilities unmasked, as well as reopening major hubs on campus like the Memorial Union and Dixon Recreation Center.  

With all of this good news in mind, use this summer to do the things we couldn’t last summer—travel, explore Corvallis, reunite with friends. But do it safely and responsibly. There are still children and underrepresented groups in our community not vaccinated. The virus is not gone just because a vaccine has become available.

Transitioning back to normal requires a collective effort from every one of us to ensure long-term safety from COVID-19. Let mask-wearing, social distancing and entirely remote work and school be memories of the past.

For The Baro, we hope to be in person following this summer, with a fully-vaccinated editorial staff and a team of writers ready to enter this “new normal” era in the fall.