Young people need to take COVID-19 seriously, but many reports show they don’t
Young people appear to be statistically least likely to suffer serious effects of COVID-19. But that doesn’t mean that young people who get sick always have a mild case — some get seriously ill, and some die. And young people have another important role to play in the pandemic: Helping prevent the spread of the disease to more vulnerable people. But headlines coming out of some southern states, where the coronavirus is currently surging, suggest that young people just aren’t taking the pandemic seriously, and it’s terrifying.
In Alabama, Tuscaloosa city councilors discussed “COVID parties” that they say students are throwing, making a game out of intentionally infecting one another. Councilor Sonya McKinstry said students will organize a party, and then invite one or more people who they know have recently tested positive.
“They put money in a pot and they try to get COVID. Whoever gets COVID first gets the pot. It makes no sense,” she said. “They’re intentionally doing it.”
Tuscaloosa Fire Chief Randy Smith testified to the city council that he had confirmed that rumors of these COVID parties are true.
“We thought that was kind of a rumor at first,” he said. “We did some research. Not only do the doctors’ offices confirm it but the state confirmed they also had the same information.”
Earlier this week, in a New York Times article about the surge of COVID cases in Florida, 19-year-old Ian Scott, who is a sophomore in Orlando, described how he and his friends have turned the pandemic into a game.
“We’re seeing positive, positive, positive, positive,” said Scott, who himself tested positive last week. “My generation says: ‘Let’s get this over with. Let’s suck it up for two weeks, sit in our rooms, play video games, play with our phones, finish online classes, and it’s over.”
Scott said he and his friends get tested as a game, challenging each other to get through the nasal swab without crying. He said so far, half his fraternity has tested positive.
It’s never been a secret that kids can be selfish and stupid, but this is a new level. COVID-19 has killed more than half a million people globally, and more than 128,000 in the U.S. alone. If young people can’t be bothered to take this seriously and stop spreading illness, they will be playing a direct role in others becoming ill and even dying.