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Feeling ill? Stay home.


Aphlegm-filled cough growls from the depths of a mucus-coated esophagus. A throat cleared, a sniffling nose, and finally a sneeze; dreary eyes and lip corners are dried miserably from hours of mouth-breathing during sleepless nights. One can’t help but recognize the inescapable symptoms of being sick. To get sick is to be human (everyone has their own case of the usual seasonal flu or cold); but to be sick in public brings a whole new set of challenges experienced not only by the ailed, but also by those exposed to their sniveling, coughing, and infectious existence. Feeling awful is one thing, but causing people to feel awful as a result of one’s own sickness is another issue altogether.

Illustration: Madalyn Drewno – CU Denver

In a world of new diseases that reveal themselves yearly, like the release of a new designer line or some other trend, the songs of sickness are an album that re-releases itself to the public year after year. It all begins when the person, who is sick with a cold they thought they could just walk off, shows up to class, work, or some other space. Then, a colleague or coworker starts feeling groggy. Next, someone else calls off or doesn’t show up. One by one, all affected become inflicted with the same symptoms until everyone feels just as awful as the one person who should have stayed home. Really, people should not bother showing up if they are  sick—for the sake of everyone else.

People who are sick should stay home, rest, and see a doctor (if necessary) until they are healed and healthy again. Making other people sick because of one’s disregard to their personal health (and public health) is dastardly. One of the key issues with being sick in public is that most people don’t know how to properly “contain” their sickness if they go outside and interact with others. Many take for granted (and most likely forget) the basic standard of how to cough and sneeze in public: cover the mouth and nose—not using hands to do so unless washed or sanitized. According to the CDC, hand washing reduces respiratory illness by 16-21 percent.

It can be considered extreme to request that sick people stay home. Everyone has to go to work and attend class because life simply goes on. With the odds of catching the flu being between 5-20 percent, according to WebMD and the Center for Disease Control, it is somewhat radical to demand that people who are sick drop everything in the event of illness to protect others from being sick. Still, those who are sick and must go out rather than stay in bed should consider wearing a medical mask or covering up to protect others.

Ultimately, whether it means staying home, covering up, or vaccinating to avoid sickness in the first place, some action should be taken to prevent illness. Nobody wants to be the contaminant that taints the entire lecture hall with their cold.

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