welcome the covid influencer
September 2, 2020 3:13 PM   Subscribe

Brooklyn and Bailey are second-generation influencers. They have 5.8 million followers on Instagram; they’re students and paid brand partners at Baylor University; and as of last week, they both have COVID (Anne Helen Petersen on Culture Study).
“Brand partnerships,” after all, can’t exist without two brands. And that’s what American higher ed has become: a slew of brands, eager to partner with other brands (aka the contemporary student) who will heighten the visibility and desirability of their institution and the lifestyle they could have there. Community colleges have no compunction about going to online instruction. They know exactly what service they provide: an education, full stop. But public and private colleges and universities, who’ve yoked themselves to the idea of college as a lifestyle experience, have no other choice, even when that lifestyle is a COVID accelerant.

Come back, they say, and live the college life you’ve dreamed of — just wear a mask! It’ll be fine! And if you get sick, Brooklyn and Bailey have already shown you what to do next.
posted by adrianhon (57 comments total) 30 users marked this as a favorite
 
I love Anne Helen Petersen so much. This is a fascinating read, thank you for posting it.
posted by kalimac at 3:43 PM on September 2 [8 favorites]


the comparison to student athletes, who don't get paid, is apt.

there's something in here about how even though tech companies are exploitative and bad (from uber driver exploitation all the way to social media branding exploitation), 20th century forms of exploitation (NCAA) were and remain worse.
posted by wibari at 4:14 PM on September 2 [7 favorites]


The testimonies I collected last week made one thing clear: institutions attempting in-person instruction know they’re going to shut down. They’re just desperately trying to make it past the day when they can refuse requests for a semester refund.
This is America
Don't catch you slippin' now
Don't catch you slippin' now
Look what I'm whippin' now
This is America (Woo)
Don't catch you slippin' now
Don't catch you slippin' now
Look what I'm whippin' now
posted by krisjohn at 4:34 PM on September 2 [26 favorites]


They’re just desperately trying to make it past the day when they can refuse requests for a semester refund.

If there is even the tiniest shred of documentary evidence for this explicit motivation, the lawsuits will utterly SINK these universities.

And these universities -- each and every one of them that held off recognizing in-person instruction was going to prove impossible until after the refund deadline -- deserve to sink. I hope the students, faculty, and families end up swimming in forfeited endowment cash.
posted by tclark at 4:42 PM on September 2 [19 favorites]


I'm actually the only person I know who doesn't think we're going to shut down. I don't actually see much point to shutting down: I don't get the sense that students are getting COVID in the dorms or their classes, and the students who live off-campus aren't going to go home even if we go all online. They'll stay in their off-campus apartments and sorority/ fraternity houses and continue to go to parties and whatnot. The students have decided that they're inevitably going to get COVID and they might as well get it over with. Every day, I talk to students who have tested positive, and they're remarkably blasé about it. They're sure they're going to be fine. They don't want to give it to old people (like me), but they aren't concerned about themselves. And it freaks me the fuck out, because they're going to give it to old people, and a certain number of the young people will not be ok. But I think both the institution and the students have decided that the students will all get COVID, and maybe a couple of them will get really sick or die, and that's an acceptable price to pay for getting that sweet tuition money. (Which, it should be said, we need in order to survive.) And hopefully, the faculty will not get it, and if any instructors do, they'll be grad students who are young enough to also probably survive. And I can't believe that I'm typing this, because it's so cynical and evil, but I think it's what's going on. In other news, I plan not to leave the house for the next several months.
And these universities -- each and every one of them that held off recognizing in-person instruction was going to prove impossible until after the refund deadline -- deserve to sink. I hope the students, faculty, and families end up swimming in forfeited endowment cash.
I get the sense that this is a phenomenon of red state universities, and the plan is for the state legislatures to indemnify institutions against lawsuits. Plus all students and employees had to sign a thing saying that we understood our responsibility to prevent COVID, and if we get sick, they'll claim that we violated the contract that we signed, and it's our fault.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 4:55 PM on September 2 [48 favorites]


Brands tend to die, maybe the higher ed lifestyle brand deserves to.
posted by benzenedream at 5:01 PM on September 2 [6 favorites]


Every day, I talk to students who have tested positive, and they're remarkably blasé about it. They're sure they're going to be fine.

Speaking as an old mid-30s millennial (who also works at a university and had to remind our new student worker to keep his mask on today), I wonder how much of this is just people in their 20s severely underestimating risk vs the knowledge that there's a solid chance that we're all going to die from climate change anyway (and zoonotic pandemics will be a huge part of that). Feeling existentially helpless about the future is the standard operating mode for a lot of people under 40, and the pressures of hustle culture may make a lot of folks just try to white knuckle their way through it assuming they'll be fine.
posted by mostly vowels at 5:02 PM on September 2 [26 favorites]


I don't actually get the sense that it's we're-all-going-to-die existential helplessness. They just think they'll be pretty sick for two weeks and then they'll be ok, and it's better to get it over before midterms.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 5:13 PM on September 2 [22 favorites]


If there is even the tiniest shred of documentary evidence for this explicit motivation, the lawsuits will utterly SINK these universities.

Voluntarily offering refunds will also sink them.

At least they can draw the lawsuits out over years and years and years and then settle for pennies on the dollar.

Go America!
posted by paulcole at 5:16 PM on September 2 [7 favorites]


Herd immunity, I guess. There's no vaccine, everyone's going to get it, and it's more important that we "live life" than try NOT to get it. Fatalism, man. I can see that POV from the young and uh, optimistic.

I am grateful AF that my alma mater has an extremely late start date and even though they are "hybrid" it sounds like only very few classes are going to be in person.
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:25 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


New motto: Bug Chasin' At Baylor!
posted by benzenedream at 5:31 PM on September 2 [2 favorites]


I mean if the options are "we're all gonna get it" and "the US will implement a sensible and effective public health policy" it's hard to fault someone for believing the former.
posted by aubilenon at 5:57 PM on September 2 [48 favorites]


I get the sense that this is a phenomenon of red state universities,

blue state faculty here. NOPE. We need mouse bites.....errrr......no covid tuition dollars to live!
posted by lalochezia at 6:42 PM on September 2 [8 favorites]


But over the last twenty years, Baylor essentially decided it wanted to become cool. A big school, a football and basketball powerhouse, a place people dreamt about instead of denigrated. Part of the project of making it cool was building a shit ton of new buildings ...

they call this an edifice complex
posted by exogenous at 7:37 PM on September 2 [54 favorites]


I can’t be the only one who thought that Brooklyn and Bailey were dogs.
posted by Automocar at 7:41 PM on September 2 [78 favorites]


There is some merit in the "many or most students live off campus and already have signed leases so they're going to be moving here anyway so if we have them connected to the college or university that gives us additional opportunities to influence them to behave sensibly" argument. In some ways, this reminds me of the dilemma that colleges in the U.S. faced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as both athletics and fraternity/sorority life were growing into important parts of students' lives. My sense from the accepted histories of U.S. higher ed is that college faculty and administrators recognized that these things were happening and were going to continue to happen even if the colleges officially condemned them and tried to dissuade students from participating. So they were made legitimate activities of the institution with regulations and supervision in part to try to stave off the worst effects and try to make these activities positive and productive.
posted by ElKevbo at 8:46 PM on September 2 [1 favorite]


So, I had a comment deleted, and yes, it was frivolous, but really what is there to say about all this, beyond "Advertisement bites man"? The comparison above with Greek (frat) culture is apt - Influencers and their followers (a very on-the-nose name for them) are just the digital iteration of self-selecting in-groups, entrepreneurially multilevel-marketing their dopey optimism to each other while the sheep get sheared and the wolves get fat on their down-lines.
posted by Rat Spatula at 9:05 PM on September 2 [4 favorites]


From way into the linked collection of interviews with academics, the only cheering bit:
It’s the students who have been informing faculty of their status, organizing testing, and doing informal tracing. They want so badly to stay on campus, and most of them are showing a level of respect and care that they are not getting credit for.
Of course that’s what might actually work, although I am having a creeping Lin Ostrom memory that common management of a shared resource only works if there’s some ability to throw cheaters out. Which the students and TAs will not formally have.
posted by clew at 9:06 PM on September 2 [6 favorites]


Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson announced he and his family all tested positive for COVID-19. While he says it's been “one of the most challenging and difficult things” they’ve gone through, they are "on the other side of the disease." Sad news, but ...

If you watch his announcement video, DJ looks fine. Maybe a little tired, but he looks fine. I would be people (kids) will see that and think - "Hey, he has it, and even if he says it was 'difficult' he looks fine. What do I have to worry about?"
posted by jazon at 9:09 PM on September 2 [7 favorites]


So for me the big bombshell in this piece was that the students have some sort of arrangement with Baylor in which they are compensated to attend. This is fucking nuts.

Above and beyond the Covid clusterfuck, if this is actually the case, Baylor should be dead to academia forever.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:15 PM on September 2 [21 favorites]


Above and beyond the Covid clusterfuck, if this is actually the case, Baylor should be dead to academia forever.

Why? I don't see how it's appreciably different from a more traditional work study job in the recruiting or admissions office. The scandal is, as others have mentioned above, that some students are not getting paid for similar work - namely, student athletes.
posted by eviemath at 9:56 PM on September 2 [15 favorites]


Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson announced he and his family all tested positive for COVID-19. While he says it's been “one of the most challenging and difficult things” they’ve gone through, they are "on the other side of the disease." Sad news, but ...

If you watch his announcement video, DJ looks fine. Maybe a little tired, but he looks fine. I would be people (kids) will see that and think - "Hey, he has it, and even if he says it was 'difficult' he looks fine. What do I have to worry about?"


Not only DJ: If they follow sports at all they'll hear countless accounts of baseball and basketball players testing positive and recovering to play. The truth is COVID-19 isn't super fatal for people under 40, especially if they don't have any preexisting conditions. It's no joke; there are complications and you can die from it; its much worse than seasonal flu; but, it still falls in the hazy risk space that the adolescent sense of invulnerability and immortality ignores. Risk taking behavior in general peaks between age 12 and about 22 to 25.

Preventing spread of Corona on campuses without some sort of regular rapid testing scheme is most probably impossible anyway without imposing an almost prison-like environment on students: more restrictive than prisons, actually, because Corona spreads readily in correctional facilities. Students would almost have to be restricted to what would amount to solitary confinement. It would be cruel. Colleges and universities never should have gone in-person without rapid testing to exclude Corona positive individuals.

In all, it's impossible to underestimate the the amorality and ruthlessness of universities and institutions when it comes to individual students and non-tenured employees. Make no mistake, they are as ruthless as any for-profit corporation. If anything, their non-profit status and supposed lofty academic mission sometimes blinds them to abuses that society wouldn't tolerate in a for-profit company.

I worry most about non-tenured employees and other university staff like maintenance, janitors, and cafeteria workers, who are much more likely than students to fall into higher risk categories and lack the financial means and employment protections to defend themselves.
posted by eagles123 at 10:07 PM on September 2 [18 favorites]


Plus all students and employees had to sign a thing saying that we understood our responsibility to prevent COVID, and if we get sick, they'll claim that we violated the contract that we signed, and it's our fault.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious


Everybody knows what stale MeFi injoke immediately leapt to my mind, right.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 10:37 PM on September 2 [8 favorites]


Feeling existentially helpless about the future is the standard operating mode for a lot of people under 40

Er... I've got some bad news for you about life after 40
posted by whir at 11:41 PM on September 2 [93 favorites]


Gawd...once again, deciding to live in a little liberal bubble that believes in reason and science out here in the upper left corner of a nation descending into madness pays dividends. I just finished my Master’s at the University of Washington (yay me!), the last 6 months of which was on line. As my wife and I are both first responders at the same UW, our childcare has been provided by the UW undergrads who come over and do their online coursework while my kids are doing their online coursework. The experience has been not universally terrible, in fact the university, which had already been using online education as an effective supplement to in person classes and labs, has really leaned into communications technology and I dare say that some professors do really quite well creating an interactive classroom experience. More importantly, it has left the student body very healthy and alive. My grad school cohort was very social and when COVID19 hit the school allowed us to use the Zoom channel for online parties which were at least as fun as real life and by the end faculty were joining in. The undergrads I’ve come to know are still getting some of the college experience just living independently in socially isolated group houses or frats or dorm floors. They bemoan the lack of big frat parties, hooking up (opting for monogamy), and giant sports events but I try to tell them I had a great, wild time at Big California University and hated the couple frat parties I went to and never once attended sportsball homecoming. No one thinks the decision to stay (mostly) online is wrong and most are intelligent kids who see that the bigger problem is the lack of a national plan to get things back on track. That, and the fact they’ll graduate into a world that doesn’t even maintain the illusion anymore that they’ll have great jobs waiting for them. But the kids I’ve got to know are still really passionate and want to learn and (like me actually) realize they will need to create the future that works for them and it will look very different from any conventional ideas they were brainwashed with.

It’s annoying that we all still pay the full tuition, which was already obscene for a state supported school with the largest federal grant funding in the nation, but everyone understands the cost of keeping the university running is still the same, if not more now. As long as they are working hard to try and create value in the educational experience.

I feel great about the quality and value of my education, and have felt well supported by my program, even after graduation approaching professors with questions about career and networking for a job.

Trying to force universities to open for in person business-as-usual operations...for what? To give people that same College Experience(TM) they envisioned from years of dumb movies? Because they’re worried about falling enrollment? I don’t get it. No way I’d send my kid to a place like this, and until there is some kind of a national COVID19 policy —- it’s just insane. Baylor is complicit in prolonging the misery of social isolation. Only one more institution in a list of thousands, but still, fuck that shit.

I can’t be the only one who thought that Brooklyn and Bailey were dogs
.

I looked through the whole Instagram feed and I’m still not convinced these two aren’t someone’s puppies.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 12:34 AM on September 3 [12 favorites]


eagles123: Students would almost have to be restricted to what would amount to solitary confinement.

The University of Richmond (Virginia) built modular housing just for that purpose. And yesterday, Gettysburg College (Pennsylvania) started enforcing quarantine for the entire on-campus student population.
posted by emelenjr at 3:37 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


Cornell (my alma mater) is open for in-person classes, but has the on-campus technology and resources to pursue aggressive, regular testing - 7000 tests a day. They say that "all returning Cornell students are being tested upon their arrival, then at least weekly – twice a week for undergraduates – throughout the semester to identify and isolate asymptomatic cases."

Of course one cluster of nine cases has already been identified but it does seem like if any on-campus approach is going to work, it will be one that includes frequent rapid-result testing. They also say that their modeling indicated this will result in fewer cases than if campus did not open, because the students would not be subject to weekly testing if they stayed in their home town/cities or came back to Ithaca to their off-campus apartments.

It'll be interesting to see how this model holds up, and possibly a bit depressing even if successful as it would illustrate how desperately we needed this kind of planning and testing at a national scale.
posted by misskaz at 4:51 AM on September 3 [9 favorites]


The University of Arizona really had their shit together for reopening.
posted by exogenous at 4:59 AM on September 3 [10 favorites]


So for me the big bombshell in this piece was that the students have some sort of arrangement with Baylor in which they are compensated to attend.

I had some sort of arrangement with my school in which I was compensated to attend. It was a scholarship, and without getting into the specifics, it was very specifically offered to me because my attendance increased the school's chance of getting a Phi Beta Kappa chapter. Having a chapter of a national academic honors society doesn't inherently make the actual curriculum being offered to students any better; it may open up some more resources, but largely it's a recruiting tool. By recruiting me, they were hoping they'd eventually be able to recruit lots more folks.

Paying influencers to attend? Same song, different verse. The incentives have been screwed for way longer than social media has been around.
posted by solotoro at 5:24 AM on September 3 [8 favorites]


The University of Arizona really had their shit together for reopening.

Headline: Poop tests stop COVID-19 outbreak at University of Arizona

For one glorious moment I thought there might be a test centre where you had to drive up and then poke your arse out of the car window while someone took a swab.
posted by biffa at 5:30 AM on September 3 [3 favorites]


Colleges and universities never should have gone in-person without rapid testing

I don't think that's enough. Keep your eye on U. Illinois. They have one of the most aggressive and massive testing programs in the country. Probably the best of any university. They test tens of thousands per day, and every student/faculty/staff who goes to campus gets tested every few days.

And these so-called 'greeks' (university sanctioned white supremecists, rapists, etc) are throwing massive parties daily. UIUC may last another week or two before throwing in the towel.

The main thing testing gets them is knowing exactly when it's too late.
posted by SaltySalticid at 5:40 AM on September 3 [5 favorites]


For one glorious moment I thought there might be a test centre where you had to drive up and then poke your arse out of the car window while someone took a swab.

Honestly, I'd rather have that than the swab up the nose to the back of your brain. The people running the tests would probably disagree, though.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:58 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


I'd rather have that than the swab up the nose to the back of your brain

The swab still goes up to the back of your brain, that doesn't change.
posted by flabdablet at 6:08 AM on September 3 [20 favorites]



I'd rather have that than the swab up the nose to the back of your brain

The swab still goes up to the back of your brain, that doesn't change.


brain?
posted by lalochezia at 6:09 AM on September 3


It's a long swab.
posted by flabdablet at 6:10 AM on September 3 [14 favorites]


If you watch his announcement video, DJ looks fine. Maybe a little tired, but he looks fine. I would be people (kids) will see that and think - "Hey, he has it, and even if he says it was 'difficult' he looks fine. What do I have to worry about?"

That's why when I talk about having Covid with people I have to point out that even though my symptoms were mostly minor I was coughing up blood the first night. If I didn't have tuba player lungs I could have been in some pretty deep shit that night.
posted by charred husk at 6:11 AM on September 3 [13 favorites]


Baylor should be dead to academia forever

I've been in academia for nearly a decade and this is the first I've heard of it. Given the context I'm gonna go ahead and continue ignoring it.
posted by aspersioncast at 6:22 AM on September 3 [2 favorites]


I can’t be the only one who thought that Brooklyn and Bailey were dogs.

I looked through the whole Instagram feed and I’m still not convinced these two aren’t someone’s puppies.


I get that they’re young women and lots of people here think they’re dumb but this framing is super icky and I would very much appreciate if we didn’t do it.
posted by hepta at 6:24 AM on September 3 [47 favorites]


For one glorious moment I thought there might be a test centre where you had to drive up and then poke your arse out of the car window while someone took a swab.

What does it say about 2020 that this seems like it would be a huge improvement over the status quo?
posted by schmod at 6:29 AM on September 3 [4 favorites]


If you watch his announcement video, DJ looks fine. Maybe a little tired, but he looks fine. I would be people (kids) will see that and think - "Hey, he has it, and even if he says it was 'difficult' he looks fine. What do I have to worry about?"

The Rock hasn’t sold an injury since Wrestlemania 19, why start now?

Seriously though, his experience in working with injury and disease are so unlike yours and mine, there’s simply no overlap.
posted by The Pluto Gangsta at 6:33 AM on September 3 [5 favorites]


Ooooooh my Meta family....I did a thing to someone who was expounding on higher ed...and is the HR consultant for a MASSIVE business consulting firm...I wish it wasn't so out of bounds that I can't talk about it here, but seriously, the carnage is about to be coming from inside the rigged system. In all the ways.
posted by lextex at 7:10 AM on September 3 [3 favorites]


Meanwhile, my alma mater has finally made a GOOD decision, after a long time of being in the news for bad ones. Michigan State has moved all undergrad courses to virtual, no kids in the dorms.

I wish the entire Big 10 was taking the same approach. But they are not. We live in Minneapolis. My wife works at University of Minnesota. As an employee, UMN has told her "work from home, indefinitely". But the message to the students? "Eh, we gonna make you delay for 2 weeks before we welcome you on campus."

How this helps is beyond me. A delay is just going to provide more time for the administration to vacillate, but kids who signed leases will be moving here regardless. As soon as you get the kids on and around campus, the virus is going to spread. You cannot prevent college kids from engaging in college kid activity. And once the kids get sick, what do you do? Sending them home at that point only spreads the virus all around the country. But keeping them on campus will endanger the community in which the campus lies. The Twin Cities reported close to 1400 new COVID cases in the last week. We're in a moderate risk area. What happens to those numbers the minute the area is flooded with students?
posted by caution live frogs at 7:21 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


I wish the entire Big 10 was taking the same approach. But they are not

There are a number still looking to play football this year, so they have to be on campus. Else the whole student part of the student-athlete facade collapses and causes future problems down the road.
posted by jmauro at 7:29 AM on September 3


Michigan State has moved all undergrad courses to virtual, no kids in the dorms.

That's only 'good' if they stay home and quarantine, which is not guaranteed. I'm of both ways about this - large publicly funded research institutions like Michigan State (not Baylor, Baylor U is mostly privately funded) telling kids to stay home - that they can't handle the burdens of testing and sick care, but BFE towns all over Michigan and distributed doctors can?

Not only that, COVID is not an equal-opportunity killer, no matter how much we might like to pretend it is. By now, I bet 40%+ of college kids know someone personally who has had it and recovered, which adds to their lack of fear about it. Personally knowing someone who has had it and died is a much smaller ratio, maybe 5%, especially among upper middle income white college kids.
posted by The_Vegetables at 7:45 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


Baylor is big -- like 18,000 students -- but regional, and was for years the only Baptist school with anything like an academic reputation.

I do not think that tradition has survived the severe rightward tilt of the SBC. Twenty years ago, I didn't think of Baylor grads as being in the same group as folks who attended, say, Brother Rightwinger's Evangelical High School Part II or whatever, but that feeling has absolutely changed.

Having fucking Ken Starr as their president didn't help much, either, and then you have the whole sexual assault scandal that was, predictably, mishandled entirely.
posted by uberchet at 8:07 AM on September 3 [7 favorites]


I think the student-housing aspect of college "pauses" and returns to online-only teaching are underappreciated as a potential vector of disease.

It was a bad stroke of luck, really, that so many states' upswings happened in late July and early August; it was hard to make the call in the middle of that, I know.

But early August is exactly when leases for fall semester start. So a whole bunch of college students traveled to college towns, regardless of whether their institution had issued or changed the call on opening. They'd already signed those leases. In my college town, leases get signed even 2 years in advance (it's ridic).

I do wonder whether all the upper admin making those opening calls, considered the effect of: bring a bunch of young adults together. Get them sick (whether you expected it or not). Then, because you don't run a hospital and don't have enough isolation space, send them home. Spread that disease!

My own institution has a COVID testing page, and they seem to be treating off-campus students (especially the "remote" off-campus students, who are nevertheless here, in town, only because of the university) with a degree of "we can't be responsible for that".

Sure glad I don't live in an apartment building downtown.
posted by Dashy at 8:37 AM on September 3 [1 favorite]


So a whole bunch of college students traveled to college towns, regardless of whether their institution had issued or changed the call on opening.

A lot of those students were still going to show up even if the school had said "Everything's online," though.

Some of them because their home life is just not conducive to doing college work, whether that's because Grandpa spends most of the day in just his skivvies and doesn't respect anyone's privacy or everyone's just too loud or the family keeps interrupting and imposing on them. Other people want to be in the college town (or just Not At Home) because they lead a lifestyle that their family would punish or squelch. Others of them, of course, are just fuckwits who want to go to the college town so they can go to stupid fuckwit parties where they rub dirty doorknobs on each others' eyes.
posted by GCU Sweet and Full of Grace at 9:25 AM on September 3 [8 favorites]


Metafilter: rub dirty doorknobs on each others' eyes.
posted by aspersioncast at 9:29 AM on September 3 [6 favorites]


My own institution has a COVID testing page, and they seem to be treating off-campus students (especially the "remote" off-campus students, who are nevertheless here, in town, only because of the university) with a degree of "we can't be responsible for that".

My institution (online only this semester) has by trying hard to test both on-campus (highly restricted, students with special circumstances) and off-campus residents. The difference is shocking. The last numbers I saw showed a four-day total of about 100 cases off campus and 3 cases on campus. And the off-campus cases didn't trace to big parties, but to relatively small gatherings like study groups. It's a hard problem.
posted by mr_roboto at 9:48 AM on September 3


lextex, will you at least link to the news item when it comes out eventually???
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:00 AM on September 3 [5 favorites]


> Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson announced he and his family all tested positive for COVID-19

They first suspected they had it when no one could smell what he was cooking.
posted by Space Coyote at 12:36 PM on September 3 [25 favorites]


I'm at the University of Iowa and we are currently one of the top COVID hotspots in the world! We are 25% in-person classes, but everyone is on campus and partying and what not. We aren't really testing, but rather relying on students self-reporting, with 1200 students self-reporting they have COVID in the first week of classes. Our governor won't order a mask mandate (or really implement any of the task-force recommendations for Iowa), but she did order bars to close in some counties and is considering raising the drinking age, so we have that amazing mitigation strategy going for us (because no one at college goes to house or frat parties or drinks before the age of 21). Hell, until there was immense public backlash yesterday, Iowa State was planning on allowing 25,000 people at the first football game of the season next week.

I was walking along the river near campus the other night and saw some students out, almost all in masks and either alone or with one other person. I saw one group doing the sitting in a circle thing with a guitar, but most had masks and were sitting sort of apart (although they were definitely smoking weed, which is great, but like, passing a joint right now seems sort of like a bad idea). But I thought, ok, ok. Maybe the students are doing ok. But then I heard this chanting sound and as I got closer and closer to it I realized it was a huge group of dudes in a frat house chanting the name of their frat as loud as they could over and over and I thought well we are fucked then.

The students don't care if they get it. But my lab sees subjects that are almost entirely people over the age of 65, and it is in a building with a lot of undergrad traffic, and I don't think they really think about how their actions might affect the rest of the community.

So this is all to say that things are not great in Iowa.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:37 PM on September 3 [10 favorites]


How do you continue to cultivate the idea that you have been “unbelievably careful” when there are videos on your YouTube channel of ten dates with ten guys all without masks? How did those videos help normalize, well, normal, un-careful behavior?

:O
posted by fiercecupcake at 2:03 PM on September 3 [2 favorites]


About 1/3 of Big 10 football players who got COVID have myocarditis. This whole "Oh, young people just recover after a couple of weeks" idea is a complete delusion. And there's going to be a lot of kids whose lives are destroyed.
posted by rednikki at 2:25 AM on September 4 [15 favorites]


I looked through the whole Instagram feed and I’m still not convinced these two aren’t someone’s puppies.

No matter how vapid or unintelligent you believe they are, or how much you hate what they do, or how ridiculous this all is, they're still young women.
posted by kimberussell at 11:51 AM on September 4 [8 favorites]


eagles123: If they follow sports at all they'll hear countless accounts of baseball and basketball players testing positive and recovering to play. The truth is COVID-19 isn't super fatal for people under 40, especially if they don't have any preexisting conditions.

I mean, professional athletes are *professionally* healthy, especially when it comes to cardiopulmonary health, so more likely to recover well, but even that isn't assured (see comment above re: myocarditis for COVID football in the big 10). The problem is that the myocarditis stuff isn't getting the publicity that the "recovery" is.
posted by tzikeh at 12:38 PM on September 4 [5 favorites]


I love the point that student athletes are "brand ambassadors," too.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:45 PM on September 8


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