Some SUNY Oswego students aren’t afraid of new COVID-19 variant

OSWEGO, N.Y. – Despite the rise of a new COVID-19 variant, some students at SUNY Oswego aren’t worried about the virus coming back this semester.

SUNY Oswego’s COVID-19 statistics show that COVID-19 isn’t affecting the school as much as some expected.

“Actually, it’s not as big of a problem this year as I thought it would be,” said Angie Brown, SUNY Oswego’s director of student health services.

Brown has worked at SUNY Oswego for over 10 years, and witnessed the COVID-19 pandemic from the beginning.

Although she was initially concerned about how the new variant could affect the school year, the health center has seen fewer positive tests than she envisioned.

Some SUNY Oswego students were also worried about what the new variant could mean for the school year.

Martin Orta, a SUNY Oswego fourth year, saw many social media and news articles about a new wave of COVID-19.

“I heard that there was the potential that another wave was coming, and all that stuff,” said Orta. “There was talking about how if it happens again we’d all be secluded in our own houses.”

Nearly halfway through the semester, though, Orta believes the new variant was just exaggerated.

“It’s one of those things that the media hypes up and all that,” said Orta.

Orta was a sophomore at SUNY Oswego when the pandemic started. An art major at the time, working from home was very difficult for him.

Orta was taking several studio art classes, and his professors told their classes that they had to convert any free space in their house into an art studio.

With no space for the studio, Orta had to rent an apartment from his father just to get his schoolwork done.

“I got the work done,” said Orta. “But it was such a pain to work in that area, as opposed to on campus.”

Between dealing with classwork and the year and a half of lockdown, COVID-19 made life difficult for Orta. 

Despite the difficulties caused by the virus in the past, the lack of a presence of COVID-19 on campus has alleviated Orta’s concerns. Now, he is tired of hearing about it.

“It doesn’t shock me that Mary Walker is seeing a low amount,” said Orta. “I think people are sick and tired of it now, you know?”

David Lefkowitz, a freshman at SUNY Oswego, was not worried about the new COVID-19 variant in the first place.

Lefkowitz was a freshman in high school when the COVID-19 pandemic occurred, and was in lockdown for much of his freshman year, and all of his sophomore year, in high school.

“I was pretty comfortable in my school life, and then COVID kind of blindsided me,” said Lefkowitz.

When his high school was shut down, the school did not immediately switch to video teaching. Instead, assignments were posted online, and students were expected to complete them without the aid of a classroom.

Lefkowitz says he was a good student before the pandemic, but after in-person school was shut down, he failed the second half of the year.

“I just found it impossible to have any motivation to do any work under those circumstances,” said Lefkowitz.

Lefkowitz struggled under COVID-19 lockdown. His grandfather passed away due to COVID-19, and in the middle of the pandemic, did not receive a funeral.

Even with the tragedies and difficulties that COVID-19 previously brought into his life, Lefkowitz isn’t worried about it coming back. 

Lefkowitz recounted there were a few on-campus COVID-19 cases at the start of the semester, but they did not interfere with his school life.

“Every negative feeling I’ve had with COVID… had nothing to do with the disease itself, it was all the effects it was having on society, how that apparatus affected me,” said Lefkowitz.

Even though SUNY Oswego’s positive test rates are down, SUNY Oswego’s director of health services believes COVID-19 could still be going around the campus.

Brown says that SUNY Oswego’s student body is young, with limited health risks that could worsen symptoms of illness. Students’ young age, along with their vaccinations, could cause their symptoms to be so minimal that they don’t think of testing for COVID-19.

There is also a possibility that the virus will spread more as cold weather sets in.

“We haven’t got into the cold weather where everyone starts to hunker down indoors, windows get closed, so numbers may start to increase when the weather changes and we start to see that kind of stuff,” said Brown.

Excerpt of interview with David Lefkowitz