Interim president hosts COVID-19 town hall

Interim+president+hosts+COVID-19+town+hall

By Karlee Van De Venter, Arts and Features Editor

 

Interim President David May hosted a town hall on Jan. 21 regarding COVID-19. All students and faculty were invited via email to join the discussion “about the state of the pandemic, vaccinations, and preparing for a safe return to campus.” 

May began by introducing Dr. Katie Taylor, from EWU’s department of wellness and movement sciences, and Dr. David Line, director of EWU’s master’s in public health program.

May also mentioned the recent announcement that EWU is planning to have a “more normal” fall quarter 2021. He said while that would get touched on, since plans are still being developed, he would announce more about it later on.

Taylor followed May’s introduction with her own remarks. She brought up a hypothesis made at EWU’s first COVID-19-centered town hall last spring, that it could be years before there was a COVID-19 vaccine. According to Taylor, while that hypothesis was sound, so are the two vaccines now available to the general public. She expressed her trust in the funding, collaboration and scientific support that went into creating the vaccines. 

Students who choose to study in the PUB must wear a mask and sit at a table 6 feet apart from other visitors. (Keri Kelly)

 

Taylor also mentioned fears regarding long-term effects caused by vaccines. She explained that COVID-19 vaccines are made from mRNA material, which doesn’t affect the nucleus. Because of this, long-term effects are a low risk. She encouraged the campus community to work together to get back to normal.

Line followed Taylor with individual remarks as well. Similarly, he brought up the previous year’s hypothesis and more insight to the vaccine itself. He also mentioned that the COVID-19 death tally had surpassed the losses of World War II. To showcase that milestone shows the impact the pandemic has really had, and that it should be taken seriously, according to Line. 

Following their remarks, May asked Taylor and Line questions before opening the discussion up to attendees. He asked about vaccination mandates through the government, which Line believed was unlikely. May then asked about the phases of the vaccine, to which Taylor referenced this phase finder. They all discussed future behaviors and protocols moving forward and how those transitions will be implemented. 

Taylor suggested that the next pandemic hitting America will be regarding mental health, after the trauma and impacts experienced throughout COVID-19. EWU students are encouraged to take advantage of CAPS and prioritize their mental health moving forward. 

Following those questions, attendees could submit questions for May, Taylor and Line. Here are key points from their answers: 

  • The vaccine is only two doses, the first shot and the follow up a few weeks after. It is unlikely it will become a repetitive thing like the flu shot. 
  • There is potential that higher education students will be placed as a higher priority for the vaccine, although right now there is no distinction for students. 
  • If someone has tested positive for COVID-19, they are still able to get the vaccine, however it becomes more complex and has a longer waiting period. 
  • For fall, it is unknown if vaccinations will be required to attend classes, but the idea is being taken seriously. 
  • As the pandemic goes on, it’s important to remain social, even virtually. 
  • COVID-19 vaccines are protective, rather than diminishing, making it different from flu vaccines. 
  • Masks and social distancing are still encouraged for those who have the first dose of the vaccine, and even a grace period after the second dose. 

The full town hall is available here