During this pandemic, stay home and stay safe

It’s become clear in the last month that the idea of what is normal has changed considerably. Families are separated, students are out of classrooms, and hospitals are taking in more patients than ever. In Iowa, meatpacking plants have closed and Black Hawk County has been ranked nationally as having the fastest-growing number of cases. 

In these times of uncertainty, it’s important that we take time to think about how our actions impact the overall issue. I can’t count how many times I scroll through Instagram or Snapchat and see a group of friends hanging out, completely ignoring social distancing and giving each other hugs or high fives. 

Many teenagers are stuck in the mindset that this virus won’t affect them, and if they do get it, most think that they will be completely unharmed. Although it’s rare, there have been multiple cases of completely healthy people under the age of twenty dying from the coronavirus.  

In all likelihood, getting the coronavirus for most teenagers is not a death sentence. But it will be when they transmit that disease to other people in their lives with underlying health issues. One of the most common chronic respiratory illnesses is asthma, which affects around 6.2 million kids under the age of 18. 

People with asthma have a much harder time fighting off illnesses like Covid-19, which is known to attack the lungs and cause issues with breathing. When we ignore social distancing, we are putting everyone else around us at risk. 

A lot of teenagers also present the argument that they don’t feel sick, so there is no way they are putting other people at risk. But in reality, nearly 25% of people with coronavirus experience no symptoms, and may not even know they have it. This makes them carriers, and can unknowingly transmit the disease to hundreds of other people. 

Walking around at Walmart, a large number of people do not wear masks and continually come within six feet of strangers. Again, these precautions are in place for a reason. If you are a carrier, wearing a mask can help to limit the number of people you infect. It’s not just for sick people either. Wearing a mask helps to prevent breathing in any harmful bacteria that could lead to Covid-19. 

When it comes to meeting other people during the quarantine, teenagers need to consider the weight of their actions. In this case, the negatives certainly outweigh the positives. Getting to see your friends for a couple of hours is not worth risking exposing innocent people to a disease that has killed more Americans than the Vietnam War. The cost of you hanging out with your friends can be the difference between someone getting to see their loved one again. 

Just because we are stuck at home for a little while longer does not mean we have to cut off all communication to the outside world, though. Luckily, we live in a digital era where facetime and zoom allow us to meet virtually and connect with people in new ways that we might not have considered before. 

The message is simple: stay home. Just because students are out of school does not mean that this is extended summer vacation. We all have a responsibility to keep each other safe. So the next time a friend asks you to hang out, take a second, and remember whose life you might be changing. This disease goes far beyond ourselves. If we all stand together and pledge to protect each other, social distancing and quarantining will soon be a distant memory of the past. If we resist, the longer this will take. So stay home, and stay safe.

 

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