Life With Omicron

By Joey Martinez

Since March 2020, the spread of COVID-19 has spiked and waned and spiked again.

Every time the pandemic seems to settle, numbers shoot back up due to variants and the handling of regions.

The Omicron variant was discovered in November 2021, peaked in late January 2022, and has now started to settle.

Not without its effects though.

While Omicron’s cases surged during the winter, Long Beach State, along with several other universities, announced they would be starting off their first two weeks of instruction primarily online.

Now with classes back in session, resident and non-resident students share their experience with the Omicron surge and restrictions.

“I just wish there was on campus stuff,” says Trinity Key, a student at Long Beach State, “Since I quit my job in December, I’ve been looking for jobs… I had a constant thing… but now that I’m not doing that I want to throw myself into something. But ya’ know, covid.”

She goes on to mention the employee shortage seen in many fast food restaurants and says that in her experience looking for jobs so far, that hasn’t really applied to work on campus or media jobs.

Another resident, Edgar Garcia, shares a similar sentiment in regards to life on campus.

“We used to have more freedom to go out and meet people. There were a lot more things we could do, more interactions. Like the student union or group activities or sports and they’re kinda gone or limited so it’s affected me in that sense.”

He also gives another thought about the way covid restrictions are being handled, going on to say, “We kind of all just have to follow what is set which kind of sucks because others don’t. But there’s nothing much we can do because we’re going to school and have to oblige by the rules so it is how it is.”

Other students talk about how they don’t really see any differences between the covid restrictions before and after the Omicron surge.

Student and resident at Long Beach State, Trakon, explains how he feels like nothing has really changed, stating, “the school, or just the city in general hasn’t really taken any more steps besides you know, asking people to wear their masks… For example we’re going back to in-person on the seventh… Honestly I feel like we could be doing more like having another isolation period for like a month or two.”

He also talks about how people around him don’t seem to care, citing a rave that occurred in Long Beach on New Years as more than enough evidence.

Avery Selay, also a resident, states, “I’m kind of an introvert so it’s kind of been good for me but it also made me realize how much I like interacting with people. It sucks obviously but I just work and go to school. Like it’s not huge for me you know?”

Students off-campus tell two different sides of the experience.

Off-campus student, Brandon, was taken aback when he heard that residents were suggested to wear two masks, going on to explain how he believes the science saying you won’t die if you’re vaccinated, means that you shouldn’t really have to wear masks.

“I think what the campus is worried about is having an outbreak. I think if they have an outbreak they’ll lose money or have to shut down so that’s probably what they’re worried about. So I guess that’s understandable. But wearing a mask and being vaccinated, that’s kind of redundant don’t you think?”

Another off-campus student who has chosen not to be named described a very different view and experience, “I personally take it super seriously and it’s really scary for me… like you’re walking around without a vaccine? What are you doing?... So I kind of welcome it, especially compared to other places like other states where there aren't mask mandates and it’s kind of like every person for themselves. I don’t really want to have to depend on others for that.”

Covid wanes, so how long does life go on like this?

Many times covid cases have dropped and many times they have spiked. The recent surge means little for some and a ton for others.

Mask mandates continue to be lifted in several states.

L.A. County is considering lifting indoor and outdoor mask requirements.

To some this is a cause for celebration. To others, it’s a cause for fear.

Several events are already being held that worry students about a spike in cases, such as the rave Trakon mentioned, open seated sports events, and Greek life bid day celebrations. But when Long Beach State announced it would be coming back after two weeks online, an online petition was created to demand that the school stay online until numbers went down.

This goes to show that aside from the handful of students interviewed, there are two large groups of people that have gone through their experiences in differing ways.

Hopefully though, this is the last time we have to go through this.