Despite temptations to hang out with friends, go to stores or visit public places, many Lehigh students have been taking social distancing precautions seriously.
About 230 students are still on campus, and a portion of Lehigh’s off-campus population has chosen to remain in Bethlehem. Many places have stay at home rules that restrict people from going out unless necessary.
Samuel Joffe, ‘22, from Mountain View, California, which is under a stay-at-home order, has been staying inside.
“I personally wouldn’t have anything to do,” Joffe said. “I don’t know other people who would ignore the quarantine and want to meet up, like what we would do anyway?”
With stores closed, restaurants only doing takeout and other public hangout spots shut down, there aren’t many options to go out.
Sometimes, Joffe said he will go for a walk around the neighborhood where there might be other families walking, and if there is someone else, he moves to the other side of the street to make sure that he keeps a good distance away from them.
His parents occasionally go out to do the grocery shopping, but the most he has been around other people has been just in passing from a distance during walks.
Sarah Smith, ‘22, lives in Yardley, Pennsylvania, where the entire state is under a stay-at-home order by Gov. Tom Wolf. Smith has been abiding by the same rules of not going out.
“There’s enough places that are under mandated stay-at-home notices that it would make sense to take it more seriously than necessary, and you’d rather overreact than underreact at this point,” Smith said. “For people that underreact, I would get it, especially me. Being such an extrovert and needing to have human contact has been difficult to take it so seriously.”
Helen Tynes, ‘22, from Birmingham, Alabama, is under a stay-at-home order and has not been leaving the house.
When going on walks or trips to the grocery store, she and her family take precautions.
“We definitely do like 6 feet away thing and hand sanitizer and stuff,” she said. “We just got some masks that my grandma sewed for us and sent to us, so we’re going to start wearing masks outside of the house.”
Along with being careful when venturing out, there is also value in being careful when staying in. Tynes said her family doesn’t have people come over.
“My sister’s boyfriend lives in the area, so they’ve been to see each other… just because they’re only like 5-10 minutes from each other, but in terms of seeing groups of friends or people that are a little bit further away or close to the cities, it’s been pretty strict,” Smith said.
Sarah Stevens, the medical director for Lehigh’s Health and Wellness Center, said the stay-at-home orders and social distancing are two of the most important things that can help stop the spread of this virus.
“We know that this virus is spread readily through droplets when we talk, cough or sneeze,” Stevens said in an email. “We also know that people may be contagious before they are symptomatic, so it isn’t enough to wait until you are sick to do something.”
The transition from life as usual to the rules of quarantine is a big jump, and Smith said she understands it’s hard to accept not being able to do things one might normally do.
Joffe said he hasn’t been able to stick to any sort of routine. On the days when the lectures are recorded rather than on Zoom, he said there is a lot more flexibility and less motivation to watch it when it is first posted, lending itself to procrastination.
He said he has been watching a lot more TV shows than he would be if he were at school, and at the beginning of his quarantine, he was reading a lot of coronavirus news and updates — but now he does so less frequently.