Your boredom is not worth someone’s life
When in-person classes were still an option, I would leave my apartment at 9 a.m. and not return until 1 a.m. that night (morning?). Be it meetings or dinner, studying or literally anything I wanted to do, I’d be gone, enjoying the campus and the city. Fast forward to now: I haven’t entered a store or restaurant in over a month. We stay home as much as possible, and only leave the house for medications, as my mother is immunocompromised.
This living situation is not unique to thousands of households across the world, across America. Many people may live with those who are—or themselves may be—immunocompromised. Some may also be amongst the elderly, these two groups creating a portion of the population that is at high risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.
We’ve seen the numbers that continue to grow. There’s talk that universities will not be allowing students back on campus for the fall semester. All of this only goes to prove the severity of what is going on, what we’re up against. Yet still, people question the seriousness of this situation.
People downplay the effects of COVID-19 and make it out to be nothing more than the flu. “Plenty of people die from the flu a year, why doesn’t the media talk about that?” Well, here are some differences that many are unaware of. According to Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, the flu is responsible for approximately 12,000 to 61,000 deaths yearly in the US, while COVID-19, as of April 19, is responsible for 39,090 deaths in the US. That is, COVID-19 is responsible for over half of the maximum deaths caused by the flu in a year. The problem? It hasn’t been a year since COVID-19 was introduced to the US. It’s only been four months.
Johns Hopkins School of Medicine then goes on to say, “Doctors and scientists are working on estimating the mortality rate of COVID-19, but at present, it is thought to be higher than that of most strains of the flu.”
So if that’s not different enough for you, coupled with the fact that this is a novel virus—aka, we still don’t know all the effects that it may have on the body—and we still don’t have a vaccine, unlike the flu which has vaccines readily available yearly, then I don’t know what is.
A lot of younger people try to write the virus off as something that doesn’t affect them, as the virus seems to take a heavier toll on the nation’s elderly population. Some have even claimed and questioned that “Older people die. That’s what they do. For this, we abandon the Constitution and civil rights?”
To be clear on this: Your civil liberties aren’t being taken away. Being asked to stay home in order to halt the spread of a virus is not making a mockery of your rights. It is rather a measure to ensure that you and your loved ones maintain the ability to enjoy those rights by maintaining their health and that of others. We’re in the middle of a pandemic with a virus that currently has no vaccine. To repeat: We are in the middle of a pandemic with a virus that currently has no vaccine.
We can’t wish illness away or rely heavily on the security that a vaccine will be created soon. But we can stay home. We can stop acting like our temporary lack of being able to go shopping or fishing or to the library is the end of the world, and continue to do what must be done.
This is not to say that everyone has the ability to stay home. In a lot of ways, social distancing is a privilege, and not everyone can opt in. But there are people who can stay home, and those people should.
To those who cry injustice at the maintenance of shelter in place orders, I ask you this: Are the lives of so many worth your “hangout”? Are the lives of the country’s most vulnerable groups worth that haircut or that “need” to “just get out of the house?”
We all want to be free of this; we’re all tired of being inside. You’re not alone in that. But it’s important to recognize what could be at stake.
So until this thing is over—and we all hope that it will be soon—before you go out on that drive, make sure it’s worth it.