A plea to young people from a young person: Take coronavirus seriously—for everyone’s sake

A plea to young people from a young person: Take coronavirus seriously—for everyone’s sake

As initial reports on the coronavirus came out, many people comforted themselves with the idea that “only” the elderly and immunocompromised were at risk. Ethically, that logic was still bad, as both elderly people and immunocompromised people are, well, people, and not just collateral damage during a pandemic. Young and generally healthy people, however, seem to have gotten the idea (perhaps thanks to Donald Trump’s own responses) that they’ll either be unaffected entirely, or are unlikely to get seriously sick, and may “just” be carriers.

In reality, young people in Europe (notably France and Italy) are becoming seriously ill at concerning rates, while here in the United States, up to 20% of patients hospitalized with coronavirus are between the ages of 20 and 44, according to a new federal report covered by CNN. Put another way: That’s one out of five patients. An additional 18% of those hospitalized were between 45 and 54, which while not in the millennial range, is considerably younger than what some people picture when imagining those most at risk. 

And still, we have large, congested groups of young people going out and about. Instead of shaming people, it’s time to emphasize education and urgency.

There are tons of pictures of crowded beaches.

BUSY BEACH! This is what @MyClearwater Beach looks like right now as spring break crowds flock to the sand. #Clearwater leaders haven�t decided if they should add a curfew or close beaches but they may vote on measures related to the #coronavirus this Thursday. @abcactionnews pic.twitter.com/jGoxQdYJg5

� Sarah J. Hollenbeck (@SarahHollenbeck) March 16, 2020

And videos.

WATCH: Ft. Lauderdale Beach crowded with people with no care, DESPITE dire & grim projections of #coronavirus and US Senator Rick Scott & Miami Mayor in Self-Quarantine. FLORIDA #StayHome this is RECKLESS behavior!pic.twitter.com/SmvQni3Zn6

� Peter Morley (@morethanmySLE) March 16, 2020

Videos of spring breakers are going viral.

“I’m not gonna let it stop me from partying”: Some spring break visitors in South Florida lamented the restricted access to beaches and entertainment as public health and government officials race against the clock to curtail the spreading coronavirus. https://t.co/8gBUuhcskw pic.twitter.com/LQKBQO5SwG

� CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) March 18, 2020

People have been going dancing.

People partying like this in downtown Nashville during the coronavirus pandemic is not only dumb but also extremely selfish. These people will go on to infect many others who are elderly, immunocompromised, or have pre-existing medical conditions. pic.twitter.com/7dVqF7qPVX

� Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) March 15, 2020

On the other hand, here is a Twitter thread from someone who says they tested positive for COVID-19.

I�m 22 years old and I tested positive for COVID-19. I�ve been debating on posting, but I want to share my experience especially with those around my age to help bring awareness, and to relieve any stress/anxiety some may have due to the pandemic.

� Bjonda Haliti (@baeonda) March 18, 2020

And from someone who identifies themselves as a nurse.

IâÂ�Â�m a #nurse, and I just tested positive for #COVID19 ….but let me tell you how I got here: [ A THREAD ] #coronavirus

� Akhink Omer (@Akhink) March 18, 2020

This young person’s story.

The story of my friend Tarek- a healthy 30 year old. Lesson: this does not only affect the elders, but could attack everyone. Please stay home. pic.twitter.com/MxKc5H5T6a

� Samy Nemir-Olivares (@Samynemir) March 19, 2020

A message to young people from inside an ICU:

A #coronavirus warning from inside the ICU. #Covid19 puts everyone at risk, not just old people, not just people with underlying medical conditions. Young people are being hit hard by the virus too. pic.twitter.com/Zn05EBJYxq

âÂ�Â� Alexander Higgins – Coronavirus Updates (@kr3at) March 18, 2020

This video compilation from Bloomberg sums it up pretty effectively.

Young people are falling seriously ill from #COVID19. New evidence from the U.S. and Europe suggests they aren�t as impervious to the #coronavirus as originally thought. More @business: https://t.co/3asiEwg6cf #CoronavirusOutbreak pic.twitter.com/pzBgWsOJvt

� QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake) March 19, 2020

And another visualization of data from the CDC:

Despite initial data from China that showed elderly people and those with other health conditions were most vulnerable, young people in their 20s to early 40s are falling seriously ill from the #coronavirus. Here�s a look at #COVID19 data from @CDCgov pic.twitter.com/ooQAI6UPe0

� QuickTake by Bloomberg (@QuickTake) March 19, 2020

According to one Oxford study covered by Wired, part of the reason coronavirus has hit Italy so hard may have to do with young people. Young people—who were likely under the impression they were at less risk of becoming sick—went about their normal routines and daily life, only to come home to, or visit, parents and older family members. According to this study, this initial lack of social distancing from crowds, particularly in cities, and then going home to see older family members in more rural or isolated areas may be partially to blame for the illness accelerating in Italy to the degree that it has. 

Now we’re seeing that coronavirus isn’t only dangerous for older people, but for younger generations as well. “It may have been that the millennial generation—our largest generation, our future generation that will carry us through for the next multiple decades—there may be a disproportional number of infections among that group,” Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, noted at a briefing. 

The takeaway? None of us are invincible and many of us may feel helpless and overwhelmed. Abiding by CDC and WHO guidelines as much as possible, and showing each other a whole lot of compassion, however, doesn’t hurt. 

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