Each day we’re faced with a new Government-mandated restriction and news updates that detail the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, and other shifts to the way we live.
It’s overwhelming, to say the least. But, it’s also extremely important to fully grasp the severity of the situation. Young people around the world have used their age as a reason why they won’t get sick.
And, from some anecdotal reports, young Aussies are still going to crowded pubs and restaurants, effectively ignoring any calls for social distancing. It’s not everyone, of course, but it’s enough. And, we get it. This is a new situation that none of us has ever faced before. But we need to do better.
According to a new study out of the United States, nearly 40% of patients who have been hospitalised for coronavirus were aged between 20 to 54 years old. As The Cut reported, this research also supports the evidence that people over 65 have a higher mortality rate should they contract COVID-19. But, nine Americans aged between 20 and 64 have also died. And, 121 patients admitted to ICU were under the age of 65. Coronavirus doesn’t discriminate.
“It’s not just going to be the elderly,” Stephen S. Morse, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, told the New York Times. “There will be people age 20 and up. They do have to be careful, even if they think that they’re young and healthy.”
While the report didn’t include information about whether any of the millennials who were hospitalised had underlying health conditions or compromised immune systems, it’s still a good reminder that young people aren’t exempt.
“Younger people may feel more confident about their ability to withstand a virus like this,” Dr. Christopher Carlsten, head of respiratory medicine at the University of British Columbia, told the New York Times. “But if that many younger people are being hospitalized, that means that there are a lot of young people in the community that are walking around with the infection.”
So, with this in mind, it might be time to re-think your weekend plans. Katie Heaney of The Cut put it perfectly when she wrote, “not everyone can work from home. Not everyone can avoid public transit. But everyone — everyone — can cancel their social engagements this weekend.” Preach.
While cancelling plans with friends might feel like an overreaction, it’s not. Continuing about your life as if nothing has changed is selfish and quite frankly, dangerous. We need to make changes if we’re going to help slow the spread of the current pandemic.
This weekend, go and buy your groceries, support your local businesses from afar and opt for the takeaway option. Buy gift cards to your favourite restaurants, order food on delivery apps, but ask yourself whether you need to go and sit in a restaurant or pub for two hours with a large group of friends.
Sociologist-epidemiologist, TB researcher, Asst Professor NYU Global Public Health, Mari Armstrong-Hough, echoed these sentiments on social media.
“You won’t ever know if what you did personally helped,” she wrote on Twitter. “That’s the nature of public health. When the best way to save lives is to prevent a disease rather than treat it, success often looks like an overreaction.”
Wishing you all a happy and safe weekend!
The current health crisis is evolving rapidly. If you suspect you or a family member has coronavirus you should call (not visit) your GP or ring the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.