Art by Gabby DiGiovanni
COVID-19 is a virus changing the tone of a generation. It is real, and it is a pandemic worthy of being treated as such because of its unique strain and rapid spread — but it’s not.
Why, regardless of politically mandated orders, is there still a lack of fear and preventative action from young people?
To those who brush it off as another form of the flu, to those who brush it off because they believe they won’t die from it and to those who think that the time for travel and beach days is now: stop.
For someone who is still trying to wrap her head around the reality and threat of this virus, there is a flare of anger inside me for those who are using COVID-19 as an opportunity to socialize. There needs to be fear, and the precautions ordered by governments across the country need to be taken seriously.
This coronavirus is composed of unknowns leaving scientists, epidemiologists, health care professionals and many others in the dark about the true nature of the illness.
Recent reports have emerged from major news outlets and health officials warning young people of their carelessness toward the virus, being that they are one-third (around 38%) of COVID-19 patients.
While the rates of young people who die from COVID-19 remain small, it is possible. Doctors working with the WHO-China joint mission “couldn’t pinpoint what factors were leading the virus to kill some young people,” according to TIME.
“This is one of the most serious diseases you will face in your lifetime, and recognize that and respect it,” World Health Organization (WHO) senior adviser Dr. Bruce Alyward said in an interview with TIME on March 19.
Even if young people “don’t get sick, the choices [they] make about where [they] go could be the difference between life and death for someone else,” according to a BBC interview with WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
As more tests slowly become available, the statistics of the virus are constantly changing. While it is true that younger adults are more resilient than older people, there is an “increase in chronic health conditions among millennials,” making them “less hardy than they might think,” according to the New York Times.
Why are so many Gen Z and millennials not scared? Honestly, there is no understandable answer.
Amid the grocery store hoarder-types and hyper-hand-sanitizers, there seems to be a culture of young people who find the virus to be an opportune time for memes and cheap travel.
These attitudes, however, do not solely involve young people. There is a fair share of Facebook moms and older people who find the virus a hoax, while at the same time, millennials are hoarding groceries between the aisles at Whole Foods.
But overall, it is the young people who are failing to flatten the curve with their idleness for action.
Something that started out so seemingly normative erupted into a pandemic, taking control of lives everywhere — and it will continue to do so, so long as the validity of fear and acceptance of reality lacks among young people.
As someone who watched the pandemic unravel itself through the writing and reporting of fellow student-journalists, one would expect that I understand the seriousness of this virus, but that is not the case.
There are days a wave of fear blows over me and days when I simply do not understand why COVID-19 is a big deal. Then I think about my parents, my friends who are immunodeficient, my professors with infants and my friends’ parents who are older.
While there is a thin blanket of privilege wrapped around young people, there are others who lack that luxury — and honestly, some young people lack it as well.
Every day there is something new to learn about COVID-19. Every day there are new people impacted by its strength and its relentless attack on the immune systems and every day there is still a piece of the virus that is incomprehensible.
That incomprehension is what scares me, and it should scare you, too. Young people are neither immune nor invincible.
We have heard it over and over again: the longer we disregard safety orders, more restrictions will be implemented. It is inevitable that frustrations will arise for those who are not used to being told to stay home as routines are disrupted and normal daily activities are taken away.
But it does not have to be like that. Stay home and take part in slowing the spread. We are the difference between life and death for those around us, including ourselves.
Email Camryn Gordon: firstname.lastname@example.org