March 21, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 35°F


Commentary: Warm weather doesn’t negate pandemic safety

With temperatures in the 70s this past week, I’ve seen an increase of people hanging out outside and an increase of people not wearing masks. As the weather continues to get warmer and the pandemic begins to get further and further from your mind, I urge you to continue to care about what’s going on — if not for yourself, then for the others around you.

Who am I to tell you what you can and can’t do? Just a person who has been feeling the effects of the pandemic on a daily basis. Since March 2020, when the world started taking COVID-19 more seriously, my world has been turned upside down. I’ve lost church members, close friends and immediate family since the start of the pandemic. I’ve honestly lost track at this point of how many people it’s been. I just know that when my mom calls she has this slight inflection of her voice when she has bad news. Recently, I even had to go home for the passing of my great aunt who seemed asymptomatic when originally brought to the hospital. The first time I got to visit home since coming to Ithaca in January was for a funeral.

It seems as if every week someone in my immediate community at home is being affected by COVID-19, and if not COVID-19 directly, then with health issues that have worsened because of the virus. It’s terrifying to watch the world around you change so quickly and so drastically. My mom says that it’s just our season, and eventually, it will all be over and be someone else’s turn. 

Whoever heard of a season lasting a year? It’s kind of laughable to me that I can’t remember not experiencing loss. 

Now I’m not here to share my sob story with you — I have my therapist for that. However, I do think it’s important to urge young people to not be so careless when it comes to a pandemic. 

It can be the smallest things that truly make a difference. I can’t tell you how many times people have looked at me strangely because I shudder when the line for the dining hall is packed, and I see five people standing on a sticker meant for one. The idea of being in that confined space with people who don’t seem to share the same level of concern as me is disheartening and jarring. 

One time, I called out to a guy whose mask was hanging below his nose as he shared a 6 feet apart sticker with his buddy. He waited until my back was turned to shove his mask back down and send my friend and me a nasty look. 

People seem pretty touchy when it comes to their mask placement. Especially when they’re wearing it wrong.

That was me just asking if he could pull his mask up. Imagine if someone told him he has to (which he does). I mean, I get the sentiment, “I can’t breathe when I wear a mask,” or “No one can hear me.” It’s rather simple though: you can breathe and you just need to talk louder. As someone who had an asthma attack so bad freshman year that they had to call the ambulance, masks are not going to hurt you or harm you if you keep them on when you aren’t in your room.

It’s easy to forget that we’re in a pandemic when the weather’s nice and you get to play lawn games with friends. I just urge you to still follow precautions and guidelines. If not for you, then for the person across the room whose life you know nothing about. Be a little kinder when it comes to others. We’re going through a lot. 

Frankie Walls can be reached at or via Twitter: @super_ge3k