In an opinion piece published in The New York Times, Fiona Lowenstein, a 26 year old with no previous respiratory issues, documented what she experienced while infected with the coronavirus.
After being released from the hospital, Lowenstein describes her disbelief that a young and healthy person could be rendered powerless by a virus that she thought was only a threat to the elderly.
It was aimed at convincing those who believe they can withstand the coronavirus to participate in social distancing in order to save someone who may be unknowingly vulnerable to a respiratory infection and unable to recover from the virus. The yoga instructor that exercised six days a week wrote about her difficulty breathing that made walking to the bathroom feel as though she had “run a mile”.
While the simplest tasks left Lowensteing “gasping for air”, she felt stuck in her own home because she was advised when she called 311 that those with symptoms should stay home in order to prevent further spreading of the virus.
Lowenstein’s call to millennials can be read in the NYT.
There are many reasons to take Covid-19 seriously if you are a millennial. As one of the largest generations in the United States, we can have an enormous influence on the course of this pandemic. Since it’s hypothesized that many infected millennials won’t exhibit symptoms, our social distancing is crucial to the health of more vulnerable populations and can have a huge impact on flattening the curve. Unfortunately, much of our generation — and some of those younger than us — is not taking this public health crisis seriously enough. We’re continuing to gather in groups, travel internationally, and see quarantine as an extended spring break. As a generation with a supposed commitment to social justice, we should be stepping up in our role as allies to more vulnerable populations. Yet, somehow the message of staying home still isn’t permeating our ageism and ableism.
Millennials, if you can’t be good allies, at least stay home to protect yourselves. Our invulnerability to this disease is a myth — one I have experienced firsthand. Countries in Europe and Asia are reporting younger and younger patients. The New York Times reported this week that nearly 40 percent of hospitalized Covid patients in the U.S. are under 54 years old. What’s worse is that when medical professionals have been forced to make choices about who lives and who dies in other countries, our generation is often chosen to receive treatment. So not only are we risking our own health, our presence in hospitals diminishes the care other groups may receive.
We’re also a generation that tends to opt out of buying health insurance, as it’s expensive and many of us — myself included — work gig economy jobs that don’t provide benefits. We often live in crowded apartments with roommates, which means our ability to mitigate risks is lower, and we must rely on and trust each other. We’re also more likely to live with our parents than other generations, and thus may risk spreading the virus to loved ones with less chance of surviving it.
The coronavirus continues to spread across the world and numbers are rising as a variety of methods have been delayed to combat what has been referred to as an “invisible enemy”.
Lowenstein closed with an appeal to the side of millennials that cares for the well being of humanity and the supports social justice in an attempt to motivate the age group to make a positive impact in a time where the older generations need their help.