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Letter writer Jorge Luis Galvez Vallejo urges students to wear a mask so normalcy can return. 

Lasciate ogni Speranza, voi ch’entrate." Abandon all hope, ye who enter.

The words inscribed on the gates of hell, according to Dante Alighieri in the "Divina Commedia," could be the best way to describe the tumultuous year we have experienced so far. No matter the age, generation or social status, every single human being on the planet has been affected.

The novel coronavirus, formally known as COVID-19, has upended human life as we knew it. Long are the days when we could go out to our favorite pub, restaurant or store and enjoy a genuinely good time. Nowadays, we leave our houses with a new fear. Will we get it on our trip to get groceries? Will we get it from that group of careless people that refuse to wear a mask or social distance? If I get it, will I die? Will I infect my loved ones? Will I see them die?

A decent amount of people out there have embraced this “new” normal. They know better that, for their sake, the sake of others and the future of this year and the ones to come, they should wear a mask, they should social distance and they should avoid large crowds. Potentially the only reason why not to avoid a large crowd is to go protest the unjust political scenario the United States is experiencing right now.

However, there is a group of individuals who are specially annoyed at the situation we live. They cannot endure lockdown, quarantine, social distancing, wearing a mask, not going to their favorite restaurant, not being able to watch sports on TV, etc. It will be their stubbornness, their weakness and denial of science that will keep them in their “uncomfortable” position; it will also be them who keep the other group, the conscious ones, locked down into this circle of hell we have entered.

The COVID-19 world crisis has shed light into how broken some systems are, how a social net would have helped the “most developed country in the world” be the hero it is in the Hollywood movies.

Instead, residents of the United States find themselves trapped in a hell only known to them and a select group of countries, like Brazil and Mexico. We currently have no Virgil that will guide us through the complex planes of hell. At this rate, Dante would have never gotten out of the "Inferno" to ever meet the concentric circles of the "Paradiso."

So please, to you, student that is returning from wherever home is, here or abroad, be responsible. Think about what you miss the most from pre-COVID-19 times; think your little sacrifice to wear a mask will accelerate our return to normalcy.

Jorge Luis Galvez Vallejo is a graduate student, Ph.D., in chemistry.

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