The Coronavirus Issue

the axe magazine online issue 7

3 March 2021



THE NUMBERS, By Elita Kutateli

THE VACCINE, By Mira Ciccarello and Bettina Wu

THE MASKS, By Helen Evans


South Sports are Back • Lunar New Year • UO Virtual Graduation



Land Acknowledgement

Eugene School District 4j, South Eugene High School, and your Axe Magazine online would like to acknowledge that our institution sits on the homelands of the Kalapuya people.

In the Treaties of 1851 and 1854-1855, and the subsequent forced removals of many Indian people from western Oregon, some of the Kalapuya were moved to the Grand Ronde Reservation and some were moved to the Siletz Reservation. It is important to note that all of Lane County was an important trading and gathering area for camas and other resources.

During the Restoration Era, from 1977-1989, Lane County was designated at the Service Area for the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Indians, the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, the Coquille Indian Tribe, and the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Indians.

Eugene 4J District and South wish to acknowledge that descendants of the original and Service Area inhabitants of this land are still here today. They are thriving members of our schools and our communities. Countless members of other Tribes now also call our community and schools their home.

We wish to thank those original stewards of this land. We as outsiders on this land wish to remember that we need to take good care of this land and take good care of all members of our school district and community. Thank you for joining us.

mission statement

The Axe is dedicated to the goals and ethics of journalism. As a student-run publication, our mission is to both inform the student body and spark discussion among the student body about the news within South Eugene High School and the wider community. We function under an open forum policy. We accept and may use in our publication the feedback and commentary of our readers. Email all inquiries:

Cover photo: UO testing program employees administer COVID-19 tests at 4J's downtown Education Center on Feb. 27. Tests are given on a drop-in basis every other Saturday and are free for all 4J community members.


Upcoming Games

Fall sports are finally upon us in the form of an abbreviated four-week season. The inaugural games on Monday ended in dual 6-0 wins by South Girls and Boys Soccer.

Home games are livestreamed for free by 4J on BoxCast.

Away games are livestreamed on the host team's website or on Facebook Live. A list of streaming options can be found at

March 3

  • 3:45 PM Girls Varsity Soccer vs Thurston (Away)

  • 6:00 PM Boys Varsity Soccer vs Thurston (Home)

  • 8:00 PM Girls JV Soccer vs Thurston (Away)

March 5

  • 3:45 PM Boys Freshman/JV Soccer vs North Eugene (Home)

March 6

  • TBA Varsity Cross Country

March 8

  • 3:45 PM Boys JV Soccer vs Sheldon (Away)

  • 3:45 PM Girls JV Soccer vs Sheldon (Home)

  • 4:30 PM Girls JV Volleyball vs Thurston (Away)

  • 4:30 PM Girls Freshmen/JV Volleyball vs Thurston (Away)

  • 6:00 PM Boys Varsity Soccer vs Sheldon (Away)

  • 6:00 PM Girls Varsity Soccer vs Sheldon (Home)

  • 6:00 PM Girls Varsity Volleyball vs Thurston (Away)


Lunar New Year

Friday, Feb. 12, was the beginning of the Lunar New Year of the lunar calendar, a system based on the moon cycles. The Lunar New Year, sometimes also known as Chinese New Year, is celebrated by approximately 1.5 billion people each year through festivals, family gatherings, and gift-giving. Although most celebrations took place in East Asia, families worldwide decorated their homes with red decor in hopes of bringing luck with the new year. Each year is associated with an animal of the Chinese Zodiac, a 12-year cycle based on the animals of an old, Chinese fable. 2021, the year of the Ox, represents dependability, strength, and determination. –Story and illustration by Evelyn Mews

UO virtual Graduation 2.0

On Feb. 9, the U of O officially made the decision to host their graduation ceremony virtually to protect their campus, students, and staff members during the continued pandemic. The virtual graduation is set to take place June 12, and U of O students who wish to participate must opt-in ahead of time to be included in the event because it will help the university faculty and staff figure out how to plan the event. – Bettina Wu


thank you for reading the axe magazine online!

Eugene Loses Its Green

Do you ever notice how Eugene is looking less like a quiet woodsy town and more like a bustling city every day? According to Eugene urban forestry officials, the tree canopy cover is declining by about one percent per year.

The organization Friends of Trees is trying to slow this decline by planting 6,000 trees and shrubs in Eugene since 2011. In an interview with the Register Guard, Friends of Trees Eugene director Erik Burke said that this decline can be attributed to the recent ice and snow storms. While this news can be heartbreaking for Eugeneans who value an abundance of greenery in their home, local citizens can be on the lookout for tree planting opportunities, like Friends of Trees, to slow this canopy decline. –Naomi Saenger

State of the Pandemic


BY The Numbers

By Elita Kutateli

Feb. 28 marks the one-year anniversary of the first recorded COVID-19 case in Oregon.

As the state begins to emerge from lockdown – reopening schools for hybrid learning, as well as restaurants for indoor dining – let's take a look at the numbers.

Over the past two weeks, there has been an average of 397 cases recorded per day. The number of average cases in Oregon has declined 12 percent from the average two weeks earlier. There were 282 new cases of COVID-19 recorded statewide on Feb. 28.

In Lane County there have been 10,297 total cases since the beginning of the pandemic. The number of statewide COVID-19 cases are on the decline, as are cases specifically in Lane County, which currently has around 30 new cases per day.

Lane County has been at a “High Risk Level'' since Feb. 16, when it was downgraded from “Very High Risk.”

Eleven or more new daily cases per 100,000 people is considered “Very High Risk.” Three to 11 new daily cases per 100,000 people is considered “High Risk.”

Even as more and more Oregonians receive their vaccinations, it continues to be important to practice social distancing protocols, to wear masks, and to wash your hands frequently.

Oregon governor Kate Brown released a statement on Sunday, Feb. 28, offering advice for Oregon citizens.

“We must continue to keep each other safe by wearing masks, avoiding gatherings with people from outside our households, maintaining distance, washing our hands, and staying home while sick,” Gov. Brown said. “But, while we must continue to keep our physical distance from one another, we will get through the rest of this pandemic the same way we have come this far: together.”

For more information about COVID-19 in Oregon, visit For daily updates on cases and vaccine rollout in Lane County, visit or follow @lanecountygov on Twitter.

OREGON Vaccinations

By Mira Ciccarello

President Joe Biden has pledged to get 100 million vaccine doses administered in the U.S. within his first 100 days in office. To speed up the process, the administration will work with federal, state and local officials to set up community vaccination centers and deploy mobile units to rural areas. Tests were limited at first, according to the CDC, but there are steps in place to ensure that the most high-risk populations can get the vaccine first.

Vaccination distribution is broken up into two phases. Phase One will include Group 1A and Phase Two will include Group 1B and Group 1C. Group 1A includes healthcare workers and people in long-term care facilities. However, even some independent living residents in care facilities have already gotten vaccinated.

“I got my vaccine on Tuesday [Jan. 19], along with many other members of independent living,” Betsy Moss, a resident at Cascade Manor retirement home said. “We received a message in our mailbox giving us a scheduled time to get vaccinated. At our appointment they had us fill out critical health information, and we waited six feet apart slowly moving up chairs in line like musical chairs.”

Moss and all of the other eligible independent living residents got vaccinated on Jan.19, when Cascade Manner administered more than 190 doses.

“The healthcare workers and skilled nursing residents got vaccinated weeks ago,” Moss said.

Oregon has now begun administering to people eligible for Group 1B of Phase Two. Group 1B includes anyone over the age of 75, as well as frontline essential workers including police officers, postal distributors, etc.

“Because my job entails visiting various jails to consult with clients, I was in the second phase of vaccine distribution,” Federal Public Defenders investigator Nicole Ciccarello said. “Anyone who regularly enters the jail has the opportunity to be vaccinated to limit risks of outbreaks. My experience was relatively simple, and – other than the soreness of a regular shot – there were no side effects.”

Finally, group 1C is for anyone from the ages of 65-75 and anyone from the ages of 16-64 with underlying medical conditions. Distribution rates vary nationwide depending on place of residence. However, President Biden has promised to make vaccines free of charge to all members of the public regardless of immigration status. Across the country, vaccines are becoming much more accessible every day.


All You Need to Know

By Bettina Wu

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been more than half a million COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. In December of last year, the FDA announced their first Emergency Use Authorization for the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine after it showed a promising 95 percent success rate after two doses.

Not only was this the first ever COVID-19 vaccine to be issued an Emergency Use Authorization, it was also the first ever mRNA vaccine ever to be distributed. The Moderna COVID-19 vaccine followed close behind on a similar production timeline. It usually takes about 10-15 years to develop an effective vaccine that does not compromise the safety of the user, meaning that the sped-up release of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine has brought hope for people around the world that this year-long pandemic will reach its end. However, coupled with this hope is some widespread speculation over the risks that could be caused by this vaccine.

It is necessary to understand how vaccines work before one is able to understand why the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines are such a novel technology: Viruses are cells with spikes on them, and these spikes serve to latch onto healthy cells and infect them. When the immune system detects a foreign virus in the body, it starts to create antibodies to neutralize them; but because the virus is completely foreign to the body, it can take multiple days for antibodies to be produced. The antibodies start to mark foreign cells for destruction upon their formation. After the virus is killed, the immune system can “remember” the virus and create the same antibodies even faster if the virus presents again.

However, sometimes the immune system works too slowly to figure out how to fight a virus, and this is where vaccines come in. Vaccines take advantage of the fact that the immune system has the ability to “remember” its antibodies by injecting a piece of the virus into the body. In the past, it was necessary to grow the viruses in question in a lab to make the vaccine. This process often took many years. Additionally, shipping these vaccines across the world was also time-consuming and difficult, giving more time for the virus to spread internationally.

However, to combat the issue of time and efficiency that traditional vaccines face in development, production and distribution, the current two COVID-19 vaccines were created with new mRNA technology that eliminated the need to grow live viruses in labs. For the past 30 years scientists have studied mRNA as a promising possibility to evolve vaccine technology, yet it was never implemented in any real vaccine due to its instability. But after the current pandemic started, scientists used the research they had already done to develop a functioning mRNA vaccine.

The COVID-19 mRNA vaccines were created when scientists took the RNA of the COVID-19 cells and isolated the spiky part that infects. Then, scientists coded mRNA to tell the immune system to create it in large quantities. Because the spike itself is harmless, it gets injected into the body, and the antibodies learn to fight it off. This mRNA vaccine is more efficient than traditional vaccines because it does not require the real virus to enter the body at any time, so there is no need to spend years cultivating the virus itself. It is also easier to create the vaccine and share it with the world because the DNA sequence it uses can be shared through sharing the mRNA’s code.

Although it is clear that there are still many unanswered questions about this new mRNA technology, its evolution will surely open many new doors to solve a variety of different medical issues.



Finding an athletic mask is hard.

By Helen Evans

After a year of COVID-19, most of us have a preferred style of face mask for everyday wear – whether it be KN95, cloth, or paper. But the start of high school athletics has presented students with a new challenge: finding a mask that can hold up under the high intensity conditions of athletics.

As a multi-sport athlete myself, I have begun the long and perilous journey of trial and error in attempt to find the perfect mask, one that has enough breathability to allow for comfortable 8-mile+ runs, the ability to fit my face and withstand semi-contact sports, and – most importantly – one that keeps my teammates and I safe and virus-free. While every athlete has their own preferences and considerations that will affect a mask’s functionality, I have devised a short review of my experiences in hopes of helping each athlete find a suitable mask of their own.

The Cloth Mask

This mask, while popular for everyday use, is probably the least functional option for athletics. The cotton or cotton polyester mix fabric doesn’t have enough structure to prevent the mask collapsing with every inhale. The fabric also tends to quickly become soggy with condensation, which can make the mask uncomfortable when worn for a sustained period of time.

The Paper Mask

In an ideal world we would compete in our sports mask-free, and I would say the paper mask is closest to feeling mask-free. The horizontal pleats of the mask combined with the stiff papery material keeps the mask far enough away from the mouth to prevent it from collapsing, and it is incredibly lightweight, as well.

That being said, generally the more breathable a mask is, the less effective it is in providing protection. The papery material has a slight fluid-resistant coating that keeps the mask from getting too saturated, but it also allows for a large amount of condensation to build up on skin, causing the wearer to have to continually wipe their face. There is also no way of adjusting the fit to an individual's face, leading to it falling below the nose in more high-impact activities. The only way to prevent this is the well-known ear strap twist, which leads to the mask bunching up or feeling uneven on the wearer.

The Athleta Everyday Non-Medical Mask

As a runner on the cross country team, I was able to consult with numerous athletes and a large majority suggested I try the Athleta Everyday mask. This is a cloth mask made of 88 percent polyester and 12 percent spandex, allowing for the fabric to remain both stiff and absorbent. This material mix keeps the wearer's face somewhat dry while also avoiding a sopping wet piece of fabric. This mask has a strong upper nose wire and adjustable ear straps to allow customization to the specific wearer. Its fit is lightweight and breathable, but the mask still keeps the wearer feeling protected and comfortable. The only downfall to this mask is that it doesn’t hold up well in the rain. Heavy showers, combined with the wearer’s breath, tend to oversaturate the fabric and cause it to lose structure and suck into the mouth.

The KN95

I tested this mask out on a series of short 3-mile runs and was pleasantly surprised with how well it functioned. Its stiff material and seams prevented the mask from collapsing into the mouth and kept it securely in place, despite the lack of adjustability. The only problems I had with the mask were 1) its lack of breathability caused my face to get significantly hotter and wetter by the end of my runs, and 2) the hard seams along the edges began to lightly chafe against my skin with all of the continuous movement of running.

After the past few weeks of trying out these different masks and attempting to find a perfect fit, I have come to the realization that I just have to accept that athletics with a mask will never be as comfortable as without one. That said, there are definitely options that are better than others.

I would suggest the Athleta mask, or one with similar material and structure, for team sports and more aerobic workouts, as its adjustability allows it to stay in place during contact sports and its material keeps it relatively dry.

As for more endurance-based activities, the paper mask and the KN95 were my top choices, due to their structure and breathability, which allowed for prolonged and comfortable runs without having to worry about the mask collapsing or slipping below the nose.

As we enter the uncharted territory of COVID-style sports, it’s important to remember to stay safe, distanced, and masked up while still enjoying our short – but sweet – seasons.

Watch out for Issue 8! Out next week!

signs of life



Monday, Mar. 1 marked a momentous day in this strange year: the return of South sports, with a competition between South girls' varsity soccer versus Springfield. The Axe came to play, taking the game energetically, 6-0.

While we couldn't be there in person this time, South Journalism and The Axe Mag cheered the girls on via Zoom during our Monday-night deadline. Way to go, Axe!


can't have rainbows without a little rain

A liquid-sunshine-y day, double-rainbow afternoon from March 2019.


thank you for reading the axe magazine online!

#southstrong #purplerunsdeep