Should Triple E end class early?


Mason Brooks, Managing Editor

If you are reading this newspaper, I am sure you have seen news articles about Connecticut facing one of the worst outbreaks of the Triple E virus since the turn of the century.  Triple E is the short name for “Eastern Equine Encephalitis”, a deadly virus carried by mosquitoes.  While it is very rare to contract the disease, if a person becomes infected, it can quickly become a critical situation. In the month of September, four Connecticut residents were infected with EEE virus, and three of them passed away.  Statistically speaking, more than one third of all EEE cases result in death, meaning that you definitely do not want to contract this thing.

That being said, should we be doing more to protect ourselves from the virus? As of this past week, the University has suspended all outdoor athletic activities for the time being because of this viral threat.  Many other schools in the area have done the same, trying to limit the exposure of their students to mosquitoes. Even this past weekend I was travelling through Connecticut and saw advisory signs on I-91, warning people to stay inside due to the risk of contracting EEE.  That leaves me with this proposal: if EEE is that big of a threat, should classes that end after dusk also be cancelled, or at least let out early?

You might think, oh that is just ridiculous, however, I have to argue that perhaps that makes just as much sense as some of these curfews.  For someone who lives in the Village Apartments, my walk to and from class is about 15 minutes long on average.  In these 15 minutes, I walk past two bodies of water, as well as through some low lying areas where rainfall likes to pool.  Am I not then exposed to a high risk of contact with mosquitoes?

Let’s look at the facts.  So far this year, there have been four reported cases of CT residents contracting the EEE virus.  For context, there are 3.573 million people who live in the state of Connecticut.  So while the EEE virus is being portrayed as a local epidemic, statistically speaking, your chances of contracting it are not very high.

This triple E epidemic reminds me a little bit of the ebola scare a few years back.  While the virus is deadly and should be avoided at all costs, news coverage latched on to the situation because people were interested, even when statistically, the virus was not posing much of a threat to the United States.  It seems to me the same sort of situation is happening here in Connecticut with the EEE virus.  The virus has been around for a long time, and has not made many headlines because it is rare.  However, once a couple people contracted it, it became an epidemic.

Let’s compare EEE to a common enemy, influenza.  People here about flu season all the time and it seems to not faze them.  Personally, I do not even worry that much if I hear there are a lot of cases of influenza going around.  Looking at the facts, perhaps the flu should be more widely covered than an outbreak such as EEE because in a three month span in the beginning of 2019, over 2,500 people were hospitalized for the flu, with 57 of those cases becoming fatal.  Why then, are we as students more worried about contracting EEE than the flu, if there have only been three deaths this year with EEE compared to 57 people dying from influenza?  I believe it is because we are a dramatic people, who get excited hearing about new and fascinating threats to our safety.  The flu has been around since we have been bored, so that is old news and out of style; we just do not want to be scared of influenza anymore.  Triple E however?  We have not had a death in Connecticut since 2013, this must be the end of us all.

In conclusion, I do not think Triple E should prompt the University to end classes early.  I do not even think that the disease should scare us enough to keep us inside.  I believe if we protect ourselves from mosquitoes like we always do, with bug spray and long clothing, we will be okay.