Social Distancing Isn’t A Choice, It’s an Act of Decency

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Graphic by Isabel Funk

It is every citizen’s responsibility to help in whatever way they can during global health crises. For most people during this pandemic, that just means practicing social distancing. Yes, that means young people too.

It’s simple: stay home and spend time with family, practice caution when it comes to groceries and don’t hang out with friends.

Although initial data suggested that younger people may be less likely to fall seriously ill from COVID-19, this by no means suggests that young people are exempt from social distancing.

At a press briefing on Mar. 17, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, explained why young people need to practice social distancing.

“Don’t get the attitude, ‘Well, I’m young, I’m invulnerable,’” Fauci said. “You don’t want to put your loved ones at risk, particularly the ones who are elderly and the ones who have compromised conditions. We can’t do this without the young people cooperating.”

While teenagers may feel that it is their right to choose to put themselves at risk, believing the risk to be small, by refusing to practice social distancing, they put everyone around them at risk. 

Young people right now shouldn’t be thinking that the concern is that they could get COVID-19 but they just don’t care. They should instead think that they might already have it and could be spreading the disease further, potentially infecting immunocompromised people. They should think of the people they could unintentionally kill. This fact alone is why everyone, young people included, must socially distance. It is socially irresponsible to carry on with life as if there isn’t a global pandemic.

The more people who get sick, the more people who get infected without knowing and continue to spread the disease, the more people will have to be hospitalized at once, overwhelming the healthcare system. More people will die if the infection rate isn’t slowed and the curve isn’t flattened.

Additionally, more data collected and analyzed by the CDC as this pandemic carries on suggests that young people, particularly those who vape and smoke, may not be as safe as originally believed. Many of the teenagers partying in Florida and Cabo have wound up sick.

Because essential workers and people in unstable home situations cannot stay home, others need to isolate as much as possible as a protective measure.

Practicing social distancing isn’t easy. It goes against human nature. No one likes spending months away from their friends. But if people don’t stay home for now this will only drag on longer. 

Technology keeps people closer than ever these days – social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t talk to anyone. FaceTime a friend. Take a walk (staying six feet away from others). Bake something. Take a self-care day. But please, stay away from others. 

Seniors: if you want to spend time with friends this summer, show leadership and stay home. Juniors: if you want to visit that college you’ve had your eye on, stay home. Underclassmen: if you want to compete in your sport or see your friends, stay home. Parents: be models for your children. Teachers: recognize that your students are going through a lot and be flexible.