Hope Rises as Vaccinations Increase 

When COVID first started more than a year ago, nobody knew when there would be a cure or vaccine to eventually end this global pandemic. Once the vaccine was finally available to the public, it still seemed a long way away for the average person to get their shot. There is not just one vaccine anymore, which has gone a long way for stopping the spread of COVID . There are three approved vaccines that are currently available, including the Pfizer vaccine, Moderna vaccine, and the Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Over 90 million doses have been administered to the American public and most people are hopeful that they see an end to this global pandemic. 

Image: iStock/Getty Images

Alaska currently has the highest percentage of people vaccinated with 24.7% and Georgia has the lowest number of people vaccinated at 13.4%. In many places elderly and mentally ill people are still the priority when deciding who gets the vaccine. Young people are being seen as potentially being able to be vaccinated by either May or June.  

The vaccine is working as evidenced in new CDC guidelines that say that vaccinated people do not need to wear a mask around other vaccinated people. According to the CDC, “Fully vaccinated people can:  

  • Visit with other fully vaccinated people indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing  
  • Visit with unvaccinated people from a single household who are at low risk for severe COVID-19 disease indoors without wearing masks or physical distancing  
  • Refrain from quarantine and testing following a known exposure if asymptomatic.”  

Vaccination differs depending on what version of the vaccine people get. The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses. The Johnson and Johnson vaccine only requires one. Both variants require two weeks after the final dosage for the recipient to be considered fully vaccinated.  

Even when people are fully vaccinated, the CDC still wants people to take some precautions, especially around those who may be at risk. One detail in their new guidelines is, “Wear masks, practice physical distancing, and adhere to other prevention measures when visiting with unvaccinated people who are at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease or who have an unvaccinated household member who is at increased risk for severe COVID-19 disease.”  

This precaution in their new guideline is essentially telling vaccinated people to still be careful around others as some people are still at risk of getting sick if they get COVIDUntil everybody is vaccinated the CDC still wants people to be cautious as there does not need to be another spike in Covid cases when it seems as if normalcy might be coming soon.

The Return of Fans Will Improve Pro Sports 

A sign that reads, “We can’t wait to see you!” lights up the top of Madison Square Garden. (Photo: MSG)

In a move that looked like it would never happen, New York will soon be allowing fans to attend professional sporting events. With youth sports in limbo for so long in the state of New York, it seemed as if allowing fans to attend sporting events was far out of the question. Therefore, it came as such a shock when it was announced that as soon as February 23rd fans will be able to watch their favorite sports teams compete. Obviously, this experience is not going to be the same as it was in the past, but many people have waited almost a year for this moment.  

With Covid restrictions in place, stadiums cannot have enough fans to fill them to full capacity. The Buffalo Bills were a test run for this current format, as they previously played a home game in front of fans. The arena may look largely empty once fans are inside, but it will be a great change for viewers and attendees who finally get to experience some sense of normalcy.  

Teams will only be able to host a very small percentage of their fansMadison Square Garden, with a normal capacity of more than 18,000 fans, will only be hosting about 2,000 fans. At Barclays Center, they are very confident that this format will work. “We’re very confident in our ability to do this safely. It’s been at the forefront of our concerns all along,” John Abbamondi, the chief executive of BSE Global, the parent company of the Nets and Barclays Center, said in an interview with the New York Times. “We have a very massive facility here and we’re going to be bringing a really small percentage of our capacity.  

Fans cannot just simply buy a ticket like they used to. The process to get into the arena has got far more complicated. And the days of scalpers are over. The lastsecond decision to attend a professional sports event will have to wait until the pandemic is over. This is because testing to attend sporting events is key in ensuring the safety of all that are involved. The athletes clearly cannot interact with fans the way that they used to, as social distancing is also greatly encouraged. This is also shown greatly at Barclays Center as “All attendees will have to show proof of a negative P.C.R. test taken within 72 hours of the event, and the state’s Department of Health will have to approve each venue. Fans will also be required to remain socially distanced and wear face coverings at games.”   

Even if the comraderies of the fans sharing this experience with the players is different, the players are surely just as excited as the fans that games are no longer being played in empty arenas. The experience of hearing people in the audience adds an extra rush of adrenaline to the players. It helps them feel as if somebody is appreciating what they are doing as the ovation adds an extra level of excitement. It makes the game feel as if it is less like a job and more like it is for fun as other people are enjoying it with you. Without fans, there is no sports, so it is great that New York State is finally rewarding fans for all they do to keep sports alive. 

 

Sports Need Fans 

(Photo by Christian Verheyen/Borussia Moenchengladbach via Getty Images)

Sports and spectators are two terms that go together. Ever since the Coronavirus pandemic started these words have started to drift apart. This at this point is getting nonsensical. People can shop in crowded grocery stores and dine indoors in many places, but parents can’t attend their children’s indoor sporting events. Many parents are missing out on a large part of their children’s upbringing which they will never be able to get back. Children usually hope that their parents are proud of their performance, but now indoor sports feel more like a chore. Parents are not allowed to be a part of something that may also bring them a lot of pride. If they are lucky, they can watch the game through a livestream but that is not the same.  

It is going to be extremely hard to grow indoor sports such as hockey and basketball if children are not motivated to get involved. It is hard for young children to be motivated if their parents can have no part. It would seem odd if they can go everywhere else with their parents in even closer proximity but once they are at a sporting event their parents can’t even be within one hundred feet of them. Most stadiums, gyms, and arenas are large enough that parents can easily distance from each other. When children are competing in sports, they are within much closer proximity to each other than parents would ever need to be when watching from the stands. There is no reason for parents to be close to each other when watching a sporting event which makes the chance at the spread of COVID extremely low. If they feel it is safe to let their children inside the building than they should be granted the same opportunity. If they choose to not attend than that is their decision, but ultimately, they should be allowed to make the choice.  

COVID Rates Spike in Essex County 

When Northwood Students arrived in Lake Placid in late August COVID-19 cases in Essex County, NY, where Lake Placid is located, were far lower than almost all other counties in New York, and even in the United States. New cases were almost nonexistent in the areas surrounding Northwood. Almost every Coronavirus test being administered in Essex County was coming back negative, hospitalizations and deaths due to virus in the area were so low that residents generally felt safe and weren’t fearful of the virus. 

The Essex Center Center Nursing Home and Rehabilitation Center in Elizabethtown, NY was the center of the first major COVID-19 outbreak in Essex County in August 2020 (Photo: mychamplainvalley.com)

Five months later, in January 2021, COVID-19 cases in Essex County have skyrocketed. The North Country region, on one the 10 regions of New York state and where Essex County is located, is now considered a very high-risk area. At one point, as students were preparing to return to Northwood, there were consistently more than 20 new cases each dayAs of this writing, new cases have leveled off to around 10 new cases per day, and there is some evidence that cases arstarting to decline and the apex of the pandemic in the region is behind us 

According to the New York Times, 1 in 35 residents in Essex County have been infected with COVID19. On average 78 percent of intensive care beds in area hospitals are occupied, according to the Times, many with COVID patients. Hospital capacity may become an issue, especially if positivity rates and cases begin to climb again, because Essex County may have trouble hospitalizing all who need it. As of January 2021, there has been an increased rate of Covid hospitalizations in Essex County from 57-72% of available beds, which is higher than it ever was in 2020. Public health officials will keep an eye on these numbers and will need them to go down in order to keep schools and the economy open. 

Fitness, A way To Escape A Pandemic 

Typically, January is an important time for Northwood student athletes. The hockey, soccer, and skiing teams usually are hitting their stride in January as it marks the start of second half of the school year. This year is very different, as COVID restrictions make it much harder to compete in athletic contests.  

Ben Norton ’21 (Photo provided)

Northwood students left campus for an extended break in November and dispersed throughout the country and the globe. With gyms closed in many places and it being winter, it is much harder for people to stay in shape. Since this pandemic started, many people have had to reinvent their lives, including how they stay in shape. Many people have found creative ways to stay in shape and live a healthy lifestyle. 

Northwood students are no different to this form of reinvention as they are finding their own ways to stay in peak shape. Hockey is one sport that has been hit especially hard by Covid. Northwood hockey players are still doing whatever they can to stay in shape as if it were a normal season. Ben Norton ‘22 is a hockey player from England, where it is particularly difficult to stay in shape. England is now in lockdown but prior to that he said, “I was on the ice like 6 times a week and I’ve also been working out several times a week.. He has since been relegated to just working out at home, but he is still determined to stay in top shape. 

Mackenzie Hull ’20 in action at the Olympic Center (Photo : Mr. Michael Aldridge)

Not all Northwood students had to travel a long-distance home in November. Two  students who live in New York are Daniel Buchbinder ‘22, and Mackenzie Hull ’21. Both have had a similar experience staying in shape during the break. Buchbinder  said, “To stay in shape over break I have been skating 2-3 times a week and also working out 3 times a week.. Hull has got used to working out at home, as she has a variety of workout equipment at home. When asked about her weekly routine she said,   “I tried to get on the ice a couple times a week when I could as well as working out every day and doing some stick-handling and shooting. 

Daniel Buchbinder ’22 (Photo provided)

Last time Northwood students were asked about how they stayed in shape over break it was much harder for students to stay fit. Everybody was essentially trapped in their homes with little access to the outside world. Now most people can leave their house to find ways to stay active. There are still many restrictions in place, but it is far easier to stay active than it was last April. If this pandemic has taught one thing it’s that creativity is a key to success. Northwood students have taken this to heart as many have used their resources around them to help stay fit. Even if they can’t make it to a gym, park, rink, or wherever they do their normal fitness routine they have adapted and found new ways to stay in shape that will benefit them in the future. 

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