Trust the science, trust the vaccine Wednesday, May 5 2021 

By Alexia Juarez–

On Dec. 11, 2020, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued an Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. One can hope that this is the first step in minimizing cases in this still-fragile pandemic. 

The Center for Disease Control claims that the vaccines are safe and effective, as they meet the FDA’s scientific safety, effectiveness and manufacturing quality needed to support its Emergency Use Authorization 

This announcement can give students at U of L hope that we can one day return to a COVID-19-free environment when we take the necessary precautions to ensure everyone’s safety. 

In early January 2021, the University of Louisville announced a COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan. U of L Health will administer the vaccine to members who choose to be vaccinated, and the first phase is distributed to those in patient care and over the ages 50 and 65. 

U of L announced that students can get vaccinated starting April 12, along with any individual 16 and up. Given this information, it is imperative everyone is granted the most accurate details to ensure their safety and well-being.  

“There are three vaccines that are currently being injected: Johnson and Johnson, Pfizer and Moderna,” Paul McKinney, associate dean of the U of L School of Public Health said. McKinney said that support is needed for this vaccine in hopes to avoid another surge. 

The CDC states Johnson and Johnson has an efficacy rate of 66.3 percent, with Pfizer at 95 percent, and Moderna at 94.1 percent 

OApril 13, @POTUS on Twitter posted a video of Dr. Anthony Fauci, chief medical advisor to President Joe Biden, explaining that there will be a halt on the Johnson and Johnson vaccine due to a small number of adverse events.  

Fauci explains that these events were seen in six out of the 6.85 million vaccinated, and those who have already gotten the vaccine should not be worried because “The J&J vaccine has been shown in clinical trials to be highly efficacious.” 

Dr. Fauci further stated that these halts have not been found in Pfizer or Moderna.  

“Over 120 million people have received at least one dose of the vaccines,” said Fauci.  

“Only a small proportion–6.85 million–are J&J […] There have been no signals that there’s any concern about adverse events among these tens of millions of people.”  

The CDC lifted the pause on the J&J vaccine on April 23.

It is crucial that we trust the science provided by health professionals giving us the information we may not already know, in order to expand our knowledge on a virus that has impacted our lives exponentially.  

The CDC has also stated that the vaccines will undergo the most intensive safety monitoring in U.S. history, which includes both established and new safety systems.  

They have also debunked several myths about the vaccine, including ones that claim it can make you sick with COVID-19, and that you can test positive for the virus after vaccination.  

Fauci encourages that everyone still get vaccinated, and that these halts have nothing to do with the vaccine’s efficacy.  

“The danger of COVID-19 as a disease clearly, overwhelmingly outstrips any risk of an adverse event from a vaccine,” said Fauci.  

For more information, see the CDC’s full myth debunking site here. 

Graphic by Alexis Simon // The Louisville Cardinal

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Yes, gas prices are rising. No, it’s not Biden’s fault. Monday, Apr 26 2021 

By Riley Vance—

As gas prices skyrocket, many Americans have taken to their Twitter feeds to point fingers at our newly inaugurated president, Joe Biden. Just earlier this month, Republican congressman Jim Jordan retweeted a tweet about gas prices rising 20.8% since January with: “Who took office in January?”

As college students struggling to afford living expenses and education costs during a pandemic the increasing price of gas is certainly frustrating, but can it be entirely Biden’s fault? 

Country music singer Travis Tritt also took to Twitter addressing his concerns. Tritt said, “Have you noticed gas prices lately? We’ve already returned to the highest gas prices since the Obama administration in many places. Thanks, Biden!”

Comments under his tweet were all in support of his viewpoint.

But, gas prices have steadily increased since May 2020. We saw a 45% increase in the price of gas in a short 10-month span. Prices went from $1.87 in April 2020 to $2.72 in February 2021. Since Biden has taken office, there has been a 10% increase in gas prices. 

The major argument from Republican leaders is that the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline is to blame for the spike in gas prices, but this claim can easily be debunked by the fact that the pipeline wasn’t even operating yet. 

Louis Jacobson, a writer for the Tampa Bay Times, said that the majority of the oil that would have been carried by Keystone XL would have been exported, meaning there would be little effect on prices in the U.S.

Changes in the price of gas due to the decision to cancel the pipeline or limit fossil fuels are not infeasible but would take years to develop. 

The more likely explanation for the increase in gas prices has to do with the simple concept of supply and demand. 

The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) oil cartel and Russia have made cuts in production—this is the supply part of the equation. 

As far as the demand goes, we are recovering from a pandemic. People are getting vaccinated and returning back to a more normal lifestyle full of traveling (to work, on vacation or wherever else they please). 

According to NPR’s COVID-19 Vaccine Tracker, over 187 million Americans have been vaccinated and over 72 million have been fully vaccinated since the COVID-19 vaccine distribution started in December 2020.

This is the logical reason for the increase of gas prices. 

Rapier said you can place blame on Biden, but only for slowing the spread of the pandemic. 

“If you think Biden is responsible for hastening the end of the pandemic, then you can place some blame for the rise in oil prices on him. But that’s because the economy is beginning to recover, which is a good thing,” said Rapier.

“It’s definitely annoying that gas prices are so high, but I think they’ll go down eventually. I think it was a normal reaction from the impact of COVID,” said Alex Wesbrooks, a junior finance major.

An increase in gas prices can hurt a lot of Americans’ wallets, but a more optimistic perspective is that we’re getting closer and closer to “normal” every day with the rollout of vaccines.  

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L administers more than 100,000 vaccinations at Cardinal Stadium site Friday, Apr 16 2021 

By Madelin Shelton — 

This week, the University of Louisville opened Kentucky’s newest and largest drive through vaccination site at Cardinal Stadium. In nearly a week, U of L Health has administered nearly 100,000 vaccine doses, with hundreds of thousands of upcoming appointments.

David McArthur, director of public relations for U of L Health told the Cardinal that when planning, U of L wanted the vaccination site to be as quick and convenient as possible.

“The Cardinal Stadium site was built big to maximize efficiency, decrease wait times and increase convenience,” McArthur said.  With 24 lanes in total, McArthur said that the site is capable of administering over 4,000 vaccines a day, in addition to U of L’s other locations in Jefferson and Bullitt counties.

As for whether U of L has enough vaccines to vaccinate the entire U of L community, McArthur said that supply was keeping up with demand.

“Between now and May 28, we have nearly 200,000 appointments available at the U of L Cardinal Stadium,” he said. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the university is confident that they will have over 200,000 doses of the vaccine to fulfill those appointments.

Anyone above the age of 16 is eligible for a vaccine, at no cost to them. To schedule an appointment for vaccination, sign up through U of L Health’s website. For any questions about the vaccine, more information is available on U of L Health’s FAQ page.

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal

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BRIEF: U of L waives COVID-19 testing requirement for April Wednesday, Apr 14 2021 

By Eli Hughes–

The University of Louisville announced on April 9 that students and faculty will not be required to get tested for COVID-19 for the month of April. This decision comes as U of L reports a decline of on campus cases.

“Thank you for your continued diligence with the health and safety protocols and for making our campus a healthy and safe place during the pandemic,” the email announcement said.

“Due to a steady decrease in our campus positivity rate (0.4% and less over the last month), we are suspending the university’s required testing program at this time. See below for more details and reminders. ”

The email went on to say that Blue Water Diagnostics would continue to operate testing locations on campus to ensure students, faculty and staff will continue to have access to the vaccine. These groups are also encouraged to get tested regularly even though it will no longer be required.

University members are also encouraged to report any travel back from areas with a positivity rate of 10% or higher by filling at a form that can be found here.

The email concluded with some reminders about the COVID-19 vaccine and encouragement from the university to get vaccinated. Students interested in getting vaccinated at the new drive-through vaccination site should receive an email inviting them to make an appointment. Community members and students who haven’t received an invite can sign up here.

The Louisville Cardinal has previously reported on this vaccination site so more information can be found in this story. 

Graphic by Eli Hughes//The Louisville Cardinal

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BRIEF: U of L drive-through vaccination site will open to employees on April 8 Friday, Mar 26 2021 

By Eli Hughes–

The University of Louisville announced on March 26 that a drive-through COVID-19 vaccination site will open on April 8 at Cardinal Stadium. Priority will be given to U of L faculty and staff, including students employed by the university.

“For the first two days, April 8 and 9, UofL Health will reserve Cardinal Stadium’s Purple Lot exclusively for university employees with vaccination appointments,” the email announcement said. “Starting April 12, the site will serve both university employees and members of the public.”

U of Health plans to vaccinate about 4,000 people per day at this site, which will have 24 lanes. Even though it will primarily be a drive-through site, people scheduled to get vaccinated do not need to be in a vehicle to receive the vaccination.

This site plans to administer the Johnson & Johnson vaccine which only requires one dose. However, it is possible that the vaccine type could change in the future.

Employees and students on payroll will receive and email next week inviting them to make a vaccine appointment. They will then fill out a form indicating if they would like to make a vaccination appointment and what their availability is. Employees who have already been vaccinated or don’t want a vaccine should still fill out a form.

Those who indicate that they would like a vaccine will receive another email with their appointment details from U of L Health’s scheduling system.

The email announcement encouraged employees who already have vaccine appointments to keep those appointments and for fully vaccinated people to continue to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.

“Even after you are fully vaccinated, masking and physical distancing of at least 6 feet are still required on campus,” the email said. “We will inform the university community when changes to our health protocols and testing program may take place.”

More information about the COVID-19 vaccination can be found on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website. Further information on U of L’s vaccination plan can be found on their COVID-19 webpage.

Graphic by Eli Hughes//The Louisville Cardinal

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While we may never “return to normal,” we can take the first steps Wednesday, Mar 24 2021 

By Catherine Brown–

After two semesters of hybrid and remote classes, U of L is finally offering face-to-face classes and 100% virtual classes in fall 2021. This can finally be the return to normal that many students have been anticipating.

U of L announced the transition in an email sent out earlier this month on March 12 via the U of L Update service account. 

In the email, Executive Vice President and University Provost Beth Boehm said that as vaccines are coming out, the university will be able to transition most classes from virtual to face-to-face in the fall.

This is the kind of news that many students and faculty have been looking forward to since last spring.

“I was very excited to see that we’d be going back to face-to-face,” Trevin Brent, a junior SPAD major, said. “As long as it is proven to be safe I couldn’t be happier about it!”

Brent added that he plans to schedule all in-person classes for the fall semester.

Meanwhile, Livi Westbay, a junior communication major, hopes that U of L keeps hybrid classes as an option for students to choose when registering for classes.

“I’m glad classes are going back to normal but I think U of L should keep hybrid courses an option,” Westbay said.

Accordingly, she plans to enroll in only online classes for the fall semester.

For faculty and staff, these changes mean planning out another semester of classes while also needing a contingency plan in case the pandemic rolls over into the fall.

Megan Poole, assistant professor of English at U of L, aims to make decisions for the class based on what her students are most comfortable with.

“The main practice I began during pandemic teaching that I will continue into future semesters is sending out a pre-course survey to ask what students expect to get from the course, how they plan to participate, and why they have enrolled,” she said. “This feedback allows me to tweak instruction plans to best fit student needs and interests, but it also gives students a stake in how the course unfolds.”

Poole said that she hopes other professors will be mindful of the physical and mental wellbeing of students as they plan for the future.

“More fundamental than whether I agree or not with the change to F2F or 100% DE is my belief that no matter what format our classes operate under next semester, professors should enter the classroom knowing that students might struggle with yet another transition in their learning environment.” 

Traditional freshmen in the 2020-21 school year might not have gotten the “college experience” that many upperclassmen got to enjoy in the 2019-2020 academic year, including in-person RSO meetings, school sporting events, and getting to meet classmates and professors in the classroom.

In fall 2021, incoming freshmen will get the chance to experience college life a little bit closer to the way it was before.

As more individuals across campus get the vaccine, we can anticipate a steady decrease in the number of COVID-19 cases.

We know that the virus will not be gone by the fall semester.

But we can still plan to return to a fraction of the way we once were.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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BRIEF: Faculty and staff drive-through vaccinations planned for early April Thursday, Mar 18 2021 

By Eli Hughes–

The University of Louisville plans to open a drive-through COVID-19 vaccination site in the Cardinal Stadium parking lot in early April. U of L faculty and staff who have not gotten the vaccination by then will be first in line, once this new location opens.

“Faculty and staff who have not yet scheduled a vaccination appointment will receive an invitation by the end of March for a dedicated U of L vaccine event at the stadium, which should accommodate 4,000 people per day,” the university said in a March 16 email to faculty and staff.  “Those of you who are over 60 and have already registered at the Brook and Liberty site should keep those appointments.”

The email went onto explain that U of L administration has been working with the state and advocating for their employees. The assured faculty and staff that vaccine distribution throughout the state has been adjusted to help accommodate more populated areas, such as Louisville.

“We will share more detail as it is available. Again, we are pleased that our faculty and staff will be the first to be vaccinated at the new site in early April,” the email concluded.

More information about the COVID-19 vaccination can be found on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s website. Further information on U of L’s vaccination plan can be found on their COVID-19 webpage.

Graphic by Eli Hughes // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L begins Phase 1c of state COVID-19 vaccination plan Friday, Mar 5 2021 

By Madelin Shelton — 

The University of Louisville began Phase 1c of the state’s COVID-19 vaccination plan this week. U of L announced that U of L Health began vaccinating university members who are between 60 and 69 years of age as of March 1, 2021. For university members younger than 60, scheduling for vaccination appointments is planned to begin by mid-March.

“If you are between 60 and 69, be on the lookout for an email from Student Health Services (hlthoff@louisville.edu service account) with the subject line ‘UofL COVID vaccinations for ages 60-69’ enabling you to indicate if you wish to receive the vaccine and to propose your preferred day of the week and times for the first vaccine,” the university said.

Respondents will then have to complete the Microsoft Form attached in the email to ensure enrollment for the vaccination.

Appointment times for the first and second doses will be automatically scheduled for respondents upon completion of the form. Estimated appointment times range from 30 minutes to one hour.

U of L Health staff will have to monitor vaccine recipients for at least 15 minutes after the shot to watch for any adverse reactions. Those with a history of allergic reactions may need to be monitored for longer periods of time.

The vaccine appointments for university members are located at U of L Health’s drive-thru clinic on 499 South Brook Street, Louisville, KY 40202.

Graphic by Andrew Campbell // The Louisville Cardinal

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University students and faculty helping with COVID-19 vaccine Thursday, Feb 25 2021 

By Madelin Shelton — 

University of Louisville students and faculty, primarily from the medical, nursing and public health disciplines, have been volunteering to help administer the COVID-19 vaccine at the drive-in service Broadbent Arena, located on the grounds of the Kentucky Fair and Exposition Center.

Amanda Beering, a fourth year U of L medical student is a volunteer at the site, serving as a Team Lead and Medical Student Supervisor. She oversees groups of volunteers and is responsible for training volunteers in the clinical zone.

Beering said that volunteers are split among three zones. The first zone consists of those helping direct patients to the appropriate areas and checking them in. The second and third zones consist of people getting vaccinated and monitored afterwards to check for adverse reactions, respectively.

While the volunteers contain mostly students in the health sciences fields, Beering said there’s people from all academic areas volunteering with the effort. Only students with medical training will be administering the vaccines, while other students can help with quality assurance on documentation, pre-screening, checking temperatures and other non-medical tasks. The LouVax effort is ongoing.

When asked what it has been like to help coordinate this task in the middle of a global pandemic, Beering said, “It’s definitely not what I anticipated when I entered medical school. As unfortunate and horrible this virus has been, from an educational standpoint, I do think it has prepared me for real-world considerations.”

“Helping with the vaccination effort has been a way to join together my efforts with the efforts of other people so that together we’re able to contribute more to do something that’s really impactful for our community.”

In relation to the LouVax effort, U of L Health has started emailing vaccine invitations to university members in groups 1 and 2, which consists of those above age 65. In addition, a standby list has been generated by the university for U of L Health to contact those who would like a vaccine in case there are unused or unexpected vaccines available.

The university does not anticipate that U of L Health will need to use this list frequently, and those called by U of L Health will only have 15 to 20 minutes to get to the specified location. Additionally, if someone misses the call for an available unused vaccine, they will have to move on to others included on the standby list. Signing up on the standby list will in no way prevent individuals from getting their regularly scheduled vaccine if they either miss a call or an unused vaccine does not become available.

The COVID-19 vaccine standby list can be found here.

Photo Courtesy // U of L News 

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The pandemic isn’t over. Please stop going out to bars and restaurants Wednesday, Jan 20 2021 

By Riley Vance–

Young people—college students, in particular—have received a bad reputation regarding their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This reputation didn’t come unearned, however. College students need to exhibit more maturity and stay in to protect the people around them while the world battles this pandemic.

As vaccines are rolling out across the U.S., we are nearing a hopeful close to the chapter that is the COVID-19 pandemic. While this is great news, it seems that it couldn’t come sooner with recent chatter about students heading out to bars despite the pandemic. 

Last week, Student Body President Sabrina Collins posted pictures outside of the Granville Pub, a sports bar located on S. 3rd Street. The Jan. 14 pictures show students neither social distancing or wearing masks waiting to enter the bar were uploaded on Twitter. These pictures sparked a trend of calling people out and holding members of the U of L community responsible. 

“I cannot overemphasize how important it is for students to continue to take this pandemic seriously and socialize safely,” said Collins. “We know that going to bars and seeing large crowds of people are unnecessarily dangerous behavior. Just because we can see the light at the end of the tunnel (i.e., vaccines) doesn’t mean we can act like it’s already here. The fact of the matter is that people are dying of COVID every day and going to bars just isn’t worth it.” 

According to the U of L COVID-19 Dashboard, the university experienced a peak in cases in December with a 4.54% positivity rate—the second highest positivity rate since U of L started offering testing for students in August 2020. This number will more than likely only continue to rise as students return to campus after the break. 

Not only is the positivity rate for U of L increasing, but the positivity rate for Kentucky is a whopping 11.74% according to the Department of Public Health and Wellness. 

The data provided by the DPHW also shows that 18.4% of cases in Kentucky are seen in people between the ages of 20-29. This means that 20-29 year olds represent nearly 1 in 5 COVID-19 cases, making them the age group with the highest rate of  cases in the state

If the pictures on social media of college students going out are not enough, this data should be very telling of what is truly going on. The university and U of L community need to hold students that are making reckless and irresponsible decisions more accountable. It is not cool to put the lives of others at risk.

Photo by Anthony Riley//The Louisville Cardinal

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