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As education and economy continue to demand our participation during this global pandemic, we barrel towards a dividing issue: when is it appropriate to quarantine? How many cases are too many cases? And, most importantly, what should be the goal until a reliable vaccine is available for the public?

There seems to be some confusion which is rooted in either dismissiveness or resignation that we’re all “going to get it.” “Getting it” isn’t the problem. “Getting it all at once” is the problem.

We knew from the beginning that scarcity was going to be our main enemy. Not enough toilet paper, not enough hand sanitizer, not even masks. We also don’t have enough ventilators or staff to operate the ventilators we do have. Once the hospitals reach capacity, lives are at stake.

As the Midwest becomes the new hotspot for COVID-19, it is imperative that we flatten the curve. We need to limit the number of cases we have at any one time. We do this by wearing our masks, social distancing and quarantining when we’re feeling sick. This includes quarantining for 14 days after contact with a person who’s tested positive for COVID-19. School can wait. Work can wait. The health of our entire community hinges on every single one of us taking this dead seriously so we avoid endangering the lives of those around us. Our culture has made us believe that taking time to recover from our illnesses is wasteful and though this mentality has been beneficial for our economy, it has eroded our ability to judge when it is appropriate to “tough it out,” and it has put money over human life.

To those in our community who want to ignore this crisis: I know it’s scary to accept that our everyday life has become a series of calculated risks, but that is the reality. The sooner we all accept that and start acting accordingly, the sooner we can accommodate and overcome. We need to hold each other and our institutions accountable for the risks we’re taking. The new norm needs to be caution.

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