Moving forward with COVID-19 & the stay healthy campaign

This week saw a major development in COVID-19 policies in the state of North Carolina. 

On Feb. 24, WFMY News 2 reported that Governor Roy Cooper would be lifting the 10 p.m. stay-at-home order and raising the 25 percent capacity limit to 50 percent for gyms, museums, aquariums, barbers, pools, outdoor amusement parks, retail establishments, restaurants, breweries and wineries.

On Feb. 23, Guilford College conducted another round of COVID-19 testing and on Friday found that the previous positivity rate of 2.7 percent had fallen to only .7 percent. Director of Public Safety Jermaine Thomas sent out a campus-wide email revealing that Feb. 23 only saw two positive tests. While these are huge milestones on our path back to normalcy, it is important to remain cautious. 

“Keep wearing a mask, waiting six feet apart and washing your hands. We’ve seen in the past how fragile progress can be, so we need to keep protecting each other while we get everyone a spot to get their shot,” North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy K. Cohe told WFMY News 2.

In regards to remaining safe, #StayHealthy Campaign student representative Hannah Preston commented on her involvement with the experience.

“It has been the most exhausting but worthwhile experience,” she said. “I’ve personally clocked over 150 hours since January 2021 working to combat COVID-19 on campus. There is a core group of students, faculty and staff who are working their asses off to try and protect our community.”

The #StayHealthy ambassador program is a student-led campaign with two main goals: to encourage students to continue with safe COVID-19 choices and to hold administration accountable. The program checks in every two weeks about what they think is working on campus and what they think needs improvement. The program then gives recommendations to the administration. 

“I think the program fills the gaps that the school is lacking within the COVID-19 response,” Preston remarked. “I think there are maybe one or two people other than Sierra Ashworth and I that are trained in Public Health on the Guilford College COVID-19 task force.”

There is also a social media component to the program, taking the form of an Instagram called @stayhealthyguilfordcollege. Completely student-run, it posts updates on Guilford College’s COVID-19 response policy, as well as statistics and discussions for students. 

Preston also commented on how Guilford College should continue to handle the pandemic.

“I think it’s important to note how crucial it is to have full transparency and advocacy for Public Health among all levels at Guilford,” she said. “Students need to follow protocols and stop the spread of misinformation, but it is equally important to have an infrastructure at the school to be prepared for a health crisis like COVID-19. Public Health should be the main priority for administration. We can’t afford not to prioritize it anymore.”

Preston continued, speaking very highly of Jermaine Thomas, the main administrator of the COVID-19 response.

“He puts his heart and soul into trying to keep our community safe,” she stated. “He has been the biggest asset in handling COVID-19. Without him I am unsure of where the school would be.”