The following is from a self-report by a young man in Seattle, USA:
Over past few weeks, we have suddenly found ourselves in a strange and disturbing new reality due to coronavirus outbreak. Grocery store shelves are empty, and toilet paper has suddenly become hottest item in town. As COVID-19 is spreading rapidly around world, we are being asked to self-isolate to slow spread of deadly disease. Many cities and states have closed schools, restaurants, bars and shops. While most of my peers take social isolation seriously, others see it as an "overreaction" and mistakenly say that only the elderly should stay at home - after all, they are at risk. As a young person with an autoimmune disease that puts me and millions of other millennials at risk, I ask you all to be happy for us too.Systemic lupus erythematosus can lower body's immunity, making you more susceptible to COVID-19 infection.
Lupus is an autoimmune disease in which body's immune system attacks its own tissues and organs. An estimated 1.5 million Americans are living with lupus, a disease that most often occurs between ages of 15 and 44. (I first had symptoms when I was 22 and was officially diagnosed at 27.) People with lupus are at increased risk of contracting COVID-19, and if we get sick, we are also more likely to get serious complications. Of course, lupus is not only disease that increases risk in young people. According to National Institutes of Health, 23.5 million Americans—more than 7 percent of population—have an autoimmune disease.
I live in Seattle, epicenter of US coronavirus outbreak. Like everyone else, I'm adjusting to new normal limited to my 800-square-foot apartment. Every few days, I walk two blocks to pharmacy to buy medicine, stock up on frozen food at Trader Joe's, and then go home and wash my hands. My connection with family and friends is limited to phone calls and FaceTime meetings. I'm still a stone's throw away from my very own Wilson Volleyball.
To anyone who feels annoyed and frustrated, I hear them complain! It is also nice to be disappointed and sad when special events are postponed and cancelled. My best friend's wedding has been postponed indefinitely, as has another friend's father's memorial service. Many people my age saved up money for months to go on a trip, but it was cancelled. It is human nature to put off one's life for later.
But this is a reckless and irresponsible decision, because you are a healthy 20-year-old man and rules of self-isolation do not apply to you. Just because you're feeling well doesn't mean you're not infected - asymptomatic coronavirus patients help spread disease, CNN reported on March 19. Every surface these people touch can lead to COVID-19 death in a dangerous person.
While most of my peers have been ordered to stay at home, it pains me to see others ignore real risks many of us face. Whenever I see a social media post by a colleague making fun of measures being taken to protect elderly and people like me, I struggle with dangerous, inspiring message it sends.
It's not easy for everyone. But young people have their whole lives ahead of them: traveling, visiting new bars and restaurants, having fun with friends. Now our priority is to take care of each other. It is up to him to decide that rules do not apply to you, and in addition to putting your peers at risk, those who refuse to comply with coronavirus measures are sending a message (albeit unintentionally) that people like me The lives of such young people with chronic diseases are not so valuable. Now, more than ever, we need to unite and support each other in every possible way. Maintaining social distancing is absolute minimum, but it will surely save lives.