Students react to the new COVID-19 restrictions

As another wave of infections hit Washington, Gov. Inslee issues sweeping mandates.

Recently, Governor Jay Inslee announced new plans to combat the spread of COVID -19 in Washington state, including rolling back previous opening plans and state mandates. Many students work as well as attend UW Tacoma, and these rollbacks could impact their jobs along with countless others and could lead more small businesses to close.

It is worth noting that in the days following his latest COVID-19 mandate, Inslee agreed to fund a stimulus package for small businesses, specifically in the hospitality industry, providing much necessary support to one of the hardest hit industries. 

Speaking to a couple of students about how the pandemic has affected them, as well as how they feel about the recent wave of shutdowns, Kelsey Slick and Eliza Patenio offered their thoughts on the mandate rollback.  

Patenio, a Communication major and senior, worked at H&M prior to the initial stay at home orders in the spring, but now works as a bank teller. Slick, also a Communication major and a junior, works three jobs, driving for Uber Eats, substitute teaching and event coordinating for the Student Activities Board.

Both were forced out of some work, Patenio being off the job for three months and Slick being unemployed with unemployment benefits and no options for back pay. 

Despite how the previous mandates impacted both, they both stated they are optimistic about the current plans.

“I am very encouraged that our state is taking the pandemic response so seriously,” Slick said.

Patenio echoed a similar sentiment. 

“I am more optimistic because of the new restrictions,” Patenio said. “Every day, I wake up to notifications on my phone that summarize the news for the morning and it is clear that the situation is only getting worse. Something needs to be done to curb the rising cases, so I am grateful for the new restrictions.” 

They both acknowledge the current frustrations as well as the continued struggle to combat the pandemic.

“Of course, it is a bit scary and disappointing that we have to backtrack, but I understand the reasoning behind it,” said Patenio.

Despite warnings from health officials that the back and fourth of mandates would be a reality of work during the pandemic, business and customers are upset and struggling to abide by these rules. Patenio added that she has seen firsthand how the mandates have been affecting people. 

“I have witnessed a lot of frustration and anger from customers because we have to follow the restrictions that are set in place,” Patenio said.

Both said they were becoming more comfortable with the new normal prior to these new mandates, enjoying restaurants again, being out in previously thought to be dangerous places and taking the necessary personal precautions. 

According to a survey conducted by Dynata — a market research company based in Texas — where they surveyed roughly 250,000 people nationwide looking to find how many people are wearing masks on average in each state, Washington only has a 60% mask wearing rate, where at least 70% can effectively combat spread. 

Slick noted people are getting burnt out though, and worries that because of the burnout people will not take the mandates seriously anymore.

“I hope that flattening the curve hasn’t gone out of style,” Slick said.