College Life Continues Amid Record High COVID Surge

As Hamilton County crossed the threshold of a thousand COVID deaths, Thursday saw the second largest spike in new cases on record.

“We are experiencing a high rate of daily new cases. Our hospitalizations are therefore up, as well, because of that increase in daily new cases. And, unfortunately, we have seen an increase in deaths, recently,” said Jamie Burley, an epidemiologist at the Hamilton County Health Department.

The rise in infections and deaths is a direct result of the Omicron Variant, which is more transmissible but less deadly.

“Even if it’s not as deadly to individuals, it is more transmissible, which means we must be just as vigilant as we have been with previous variants,” said Sabrina Novak, Health Department Administrator of Health Services.

Due to the surge of the Omicron Variant, Hamilton County’s case rate is about as high as it’s ever been.

But at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, many people are choosing to continue to live their everyday lives.

“Honestly, it feels pretty normal, especially since we don’t have mask mandates or anything,” said one student.

Some students entered college after the pandemic had already begun, and have learned to live with it.

“Now it’s more like I don’t have a fear, like ‘if I get it, I get it’, at this point. There’s, like, no point in fearing for so long, you know,” said another.

Others have decided that the dangers of catching COVID are outweighed by the negative effects of isolation.

“The damage that I would have if I was socializing isolating myself would be a lot, because I know myself, and I know that that would be really, really hard on me, to not be interacting with people and socially isolating and all that stuff.”

Two years since it began, the pandemic is raging is intensely as ever, but it seems that many have accepted it as an element of normal life.

Categories: Chattanooga, COVID-19, Education, Hamilton County, Health, UTC

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