The threat of large gatherings during a pandemic
Written by Maritza Navar-Lopez on September 11, 2020
Photo Courtesy of Illinois State University
NORMAL, Ill. – Illinois State University is now facing 1,372 positive COVID test result but gatherings off campus continue.
Earlier this week crowds surged after members of a famous Youtube group arrived at ISU. Crowds gathered around the members without following social distancing regulations or wearing masks. Additionally, the Lodge recently had to close down common areas in response to the large gatherings.
ISU and the McLean County Health Department have seen a surge in cases within younger individuals due to these large gatherings.
McLean County Health Director, Jessica McKnight encourages maintaining basic hygiene practices and cleaning frequently touched surfaces. She advises people to think of time, space, people and place.
“In general, those larger gatherings where you cannot social distance are a higher risk of disease transmission. Also looking at how many people you’re interacting with because the more people the more the risk,” says McKnight. “Again, being in a group of people who aren’t social distancing or wearing a mask increases your risk. Can you maintain social distancing? What’s the length of time? Those longer interactions are obviously higher risk.”
She explains the risks of attending large gatherings are simply becoming infected or spreading the virus. Individuals can infect others before even developing symptoms for up to 48 hours while others never develop symptoms at all.
Individuals identified as close contacts should quarantine for 14 days. They are advised to get tested five days from the date they were exposed. She explains that individuals cannot test out of quarantine.
“If you have been identified as a contact and during the quarantine period you go get tested and test negative, you still have to finish the whole 14 days,” said McKnight. “Symptoms can come up between 2-14 days. Even if it’s been six days and you get tested, there’s still some time there you could develop symptoms and become infectious. So we advise you to complete the 14-day quarantine.”
She advises individuals to not visit family or friends after attending a large gathering. While younger individuals do not usually face severity or complications, McKnight explains it is still possible.
“The public needs to understand this virus is spreading like wildfire. When we are coming into contact with each other we are giving this fire fuel and it will continue to spread.,” said McKnight. “We have seen younger individuals that become hospitalized. We want everyone to take it seriously. Again it’s not just affecting you but you could potentially infect your parents, siblings, grandparents or someone else that is more vulnerable to severity than you are.”