After California Gov. Gavin Newsom urged other communities to follow the Bay Area’s lead and implement “shelter in place” orders to slow the spread of COVID-19, colloquially known as coronavirus, he probably wasn’t too thrilled with the thousands of spring breakers who flocked to Miami this past week. In an irresponsible attempt to celebrate a last hurrah, young adults vacationing in Florida and beyond could be jeopardizing the well-being of our most vulnerable populations.
After hundreds of confirmed coronavirus cases in California, seven Bay Area counties took initiative by implementing shelter-in-place orders, which calls for residents to leave their homes only for “essential” purposes and avoid social gatherings until April 7. Given this drastic measure, the public has been encouraged to adopt alternative methods of social engagement through online communication rather than defy significant measures that have been proven to be effective. These measures are a form of social distancing, which may be mentally draining during such uncertain times, but is a tried and true protection against the spread of COVID-19. If we as a community want to prevent this outbreak from doing more damage, then we need to follow these orders to the greatest extent possible.
If protecting the greater population is not enough of an incentive to act responsibly, then young adults should consider that the nation’s leading expert on infectious diseases has asserted that COVID-19 is more lethal than the seasonal flu and that young individual are “not immune or safe from getting seriously ill.” Furthermore, young people are more likely to be asymptomatic and unknowingly spread the virus, placing older or immunocompromised relatives or neighbors at a higher risk of contracting it. Until other states call for similar shelter-in-place orders, it is imperative that young adults choose to act unselfishly and avoid unnecessary social interactions.
Most experts estimate that the pandemic will last two more months, but that is merely an optimistic guess. In order to return to normalcy sooner, young people need to take social distancing practices seriously. While it is disappointing that vacation plans are abruptly canceled and graduation ceremonies remain uncertain, these are changes we have to make to save hundreds, maybe thousands of lives. If there was ever a time to prioritize streaming Netflix and mastering Pinterest recipes, it’s now.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, news coverage has shown two prevalent camps of irresponsible people. In one, individuals rush to supermarket aisles and hastily grab the largest bottles of hand sanitizer they can find, while dismissing the needs of those who are elderly or have underlying health conditions; in the other, some gather in large groups at bars, sharing drinks and flippantly dismissing the virus.
A third camp of individuals should set an example that can be followed, taking the necessary precautions and acknowledging the well-being of those in their community.
Editorials represent the majority opinion of the editorial board as written by the spring 2020 opinion editor, Simmy Khetpal.