Some gentle words of advice for the spring break revelers, blissful beachgoers and corona carousers who have poohed-poohed social distancing out of a reckless sense of both entitlement and invincibility: Grow up.
And for goodness’ sake, don’t go out to get the party started.
You can get sick from this pandemic. You can, in fact, get sick enough to have to be hospitalized … and a number of you have. About 20% of those who have required hospital stays due to COVID-19 have been people between 20 and 44 years old, according to a recent analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And 2% to 4% have been admitted into intensive care. Some younger people do lose their lives to the disease, at a rate of roughly one to two per 1,000 coronavirus cases.
Still, a stubborn tide of stupidity persists among some people who either think they’re going to live forever or don’t seem to care if they might die tomorrow. As one college student on the beach in Miami complained: “It’s really messing up with my spring break.”
“This virus ain’t that serious,” said another.
But reality begs to differ.
About 70 students from the University of Texas at Austin, all in their 20s, chartered a plane to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, in late March, The Associated Press reported last week. Last Tuesday, Austin public health officials announced that 28 of them now test positive for the coronavirus. Many of the remaining students are under public health monitoring, according to officials.
This is why it was encouraging that NBA star Steph Curry did a live interview on Instagram with Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Odds are that Curry, who has 30 milllion Instagram followers, probably represents a different demographic than the audiences for daily White House briefings.
So, when Fauci repeated what he has said before about the threat COVID-19 poses to young people, it may have reached some pairs of ears for the first time. Although the virus has had its most severe effect on older people, “young people like yourself,” Fauci told the 32-year-old Curry, are not “exempt from risk.”
“This is serious business,” Fauci told Curry. “We are not overreacting.”
The fact is, people of all ages who have preexisting health problems are more susceptible to the virus. That includes young adults. Millennials as a group are now experiencing rising levels of high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes and obesity. They also smoke cigarettes in disconcerting numbers (17% of men and 12% of women ages 18-44), which makes them more susceptible to respiratory illnesses like COVID-19.
Then there’s the collateral damage. Younger people who may not get seriously sick still could pass the disease to someone who is much more vulnerable: a parent or other older relative. And every person who is hospitalized adds to the burden of already-stressed health care system.
You may have seen the video of the spring break party dude who told an interviewer that he was going for the gusto. “If I get corona, I get corona,” Brady Sluder said. “I’m not gonna let that stop me from partying.”
Sluder has since thought better of his words and said he was sorry.
Our best advice to everyone out there: Better to be safe than sorry.