By Julia Temple, Managing Editor, May 2020
After my virtual class ends, I throw myself on my bed and open my phone. To pass the time, I like to go on my social media apps to stay connected with friends. But as soon as I open up one app, I see many Nobles faces smiling back at me, gathered together to wish their friend a happy birthday. They were hugging. They did not wear masks and did not abide by the social distancing rules.
I immediately start crying. I would give anything to be hugging my friends right now. As a senior, I am saddened by the loss of special moments that I have been looking forward to my whole high school career. I know a lot of other people are sad too. But what made me particularly upset seeing the photo of the gathering was how reckless, selfish, and ignorant these actions seemed to me.
As someone with a chronic illness and a compromised immune system, I’ve been particularly worried about what this virus could mean for me and my family. I feel left out of the optimist bias of “I’m too young to be affected by this virus.” My senior passion project allows me to connect with other chronically ill people like myself, and the overwhelming sentiment in our community is how to live with the fear of being more at risk. People in the chronic illness and disability community have been dealing with isolation for years and many have been forced to work from home in order to manage treatments and pain.
I wish that I could say this photo of a large student gathering is unique. However, as days go on, I see posts like this more and more frequently. We often base our actions on what we see our friends doing, and social media is a hugely influential tool in shaping our society. So, as one friend group gathers and posts about it, another friend group feels empowered to do it as well. It’s not only seen as acceptable but encouraged. I urge people to think about what kind of message they want to send before they post.
I understand that after a month, it’s easy to gloss over sayings that are getting a little repetitive. So, I would like to explain exactly what “flattening the curve” means. In order to limit the number of new cases so that patients have better access to hospital care, everyone who is able must be quarantined. Everyone is supposed to be wearing masks in public. People should only be going out if it is essential. This all only works, however, if everyone does these things.
According to the CDC, up to 25% of the people who have Covid-19 do not show symptoms. If even one person in a group has it, the entire group likely will contract it. On average, 1 person passes the virus to 3 people. So in a gathering of 12 people, they now pass the virus to 36 other people. Think about this transmission rate and how quickly social gratification has now turned into the rapid spread of a virus.
I feel very privileged to not have to go outside. My family has been able to work remotely and I’ve been able to get most of my treatments at home. But there are many chronically ill people who need to go to hospitals to receive treatments. Essential workers risk their lives every day in the service of others and by going out, you are endangering their lives, and many other people’s lives.
I look forward to the day when I am finally able to see my friends. But I know that this won’t happen until quarantine ends. I hope that everyone else will wait until then too. In the meantime, know that we truly are alone together.