Images of young people packing bars, crowding beaches and pools, and gathering in large groups elsewhere have been cited as examples of how not to behave during a pandemic.
Millennials should show that their reputation for being self-centered is undeserved by protecting themselves and others from the coronavirus.
Millennials have been much maligned in the media, so it should come as no surprise that they have recently been portrayed as foolishly helping to spread the novel coronavirus.
Images of young people packing bars, crowding beaches and pools, and gathering in large groups elsewhere have been cited as examples of how not to behave during a pandemic. Such images prompted CNN’s Jake Tapper to criticize young people for acting like they have no reason to worry, because they are less likely to die from the COVID-19 virus than people older than 60.
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“What are you saying? That my 80-year-old dad, therefore, is fair game?” Tapper said.
But millennials and their younger counterparts in Generation Z deserve to be cut a little slack. After all, the federal government’s predominant public health message was warning older Americans about the coronavirus for far too long.
Now federal officials are emphasizing that young people are also at risk. They are also calling on young people to help slow the spread of the virus, keeping older people and other vulnerable populations from falling ill and overwhelming health-care facilities.
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“Don’t get the attitude: ‘Well, I’m young. I’m invulnerable,’” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.
Millenials need to worry about more than infecting their older relatives. A report issued Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that younger adults comprise a large portion of coronavirus hospitalizations.
By now, recommendations to practice “social distancing” by staying 6 feet from others should be well known. Americans are being urged to avoid discretionary travel, shopping and social visits; to not go out to restaurants and bars (which have been closed for 30 days in Florida); and gather only in groups of fewer than 10 people. People in all age groups, not just millennials, need to take such advice seriously.
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But young people have an additional role to play. Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, has called for an “army of millennials” to use their social-media skills to spread the word about social distancing.
“The millennials are incredibly good about getting information out in a clear way, but more importantly, they are incredibly good about understanding how to protect one another, how to protect their parents and how to protect their grandparents,” she said.
Coronavirus cases have risen rapidly in recent days, so people of all ages need to help keep the number of cases from being higher than the number of available hospital beds and ventilators. Stories such as the University of Florida dentistry student who was feeling sick and still saw dental patients, only to later be found to have contracted the coronavirus, can’t happen anymore.
It’s a worthwhile sacrifice to stay housebound as much as possible for a while. Millennials should show that their reputation for being self-centered is undeserved by protecting themselves and others, while using all the technological tools available to urge other young people to do the same.
By Editorial boards/USA Today Network-Florida.