Tell the Young People: It’s Not the Time to Party

The rising number of Covid-19 infections in young people:

When we think about the rising numbers of Covid-19 infections across Canada and the United States, one thing that’s clear is that young people are making up the majority of new cases. And it’s not surprising why.

Young people across the globe are acting out against the restrictions imposed on them over the past few months and they’re partying like there’s no tomorrow. Sadly, if they keep it up, there could very well be no tomorrow for them, their friends or their families.

Young people are not invincible:

Young people think they’re invincible but they’re becoming infected at an alarming rate, with a greater increase in new cases in the 19–39 year-old age group. And many of these otherwise healthy young people who have no underlying health conditions are dying of the disease. Many are dying of strokes, and some are dying suddenly after seeming to have mild cases of the disease.

Rebecca Wrixon, a healthy 44 year old woman, caught Covid-19 and initially she had minimal symptoms until the virus attacked her nervous system, paralyzing half her body, making her unable to see or to speak, and almost killing her before she fortunately recovered.

Politicians plead with the youth to stop partying:

Many politicians in Canada and the US have been begging the young people in their communities to stop partying and to go back to social distancing, but these pleas have been falling on deaf ears. Just the other day a Brampton, Ontario house party was held with over 200 people in attendance, causing the Premier of Ontario to call them “yahoos.”

In Florida, young people have continued to flock to the beaches and to the bars, defying the public health guidelines. This behavior has been replicated in other parts of the US, in Canada and in the United Kingdom.

In the Hamptons, just outside of New York City, a fundraiser attracted an enormous crowd, drawing the ire of Governor Cuomo. It seems like anywhere you go the youth is in revolt against restrictions to mass congregating.

Young people are built to have bad judgment and impulsiveness:

On the one hand, I can understand why young people are ignoring the rules. I remember being in my 20’s and making some pretty stupid decisions. I simply didn’t register danger in the way I do now as a more mature adult. If I were in my 20’s right now I wonder if I’d be making decisions that were any better than those being made by the youth of today.

Being young is a time of extremes, and young people are built to have poor judgment, minimal insight and a whole lot of impulsiveness. Being young means not necessarily seeing where your actions might lead. Many young people live for today and have difficulty contemplating how their current choices might affect their lives, and the lives of those around them, tomorrow.

The difference, though, between back when I was young and what’s happening today, is that Covid-19 is everywhere and to date, it has killed almost 700,000 people around the world; with over 150,000 of these deaths being in the US. Young people, despite their live-for-today attitudes and their beliefs of being impervious, are not immune.

Young people can get very sick with Covid-19:

Even those mildly affected can go on to develop chronic conditions characterized by severe pain, fatigue and shortness of breath. The actress and writer Lena Dunham recently chronicled her prolonged and terrifying experience of being infected with Covid-19.

And for those young people who become infected but manage not to get sick, this doesn’t mean that all is well. We’ve seen numerous cases of asymptomatic young people who’ve gone on to infect their parents and grandparents with Covid. These young people are defying their elders, going to parties and bars, and then spreading the infection to their more vulnerable family members.

Schools are reopening right now in many parts of the US. In Canada, it’s only a month away. If young people continue with this reckless behavior, I fear that the numbers will continue to rise and the safety of our children, our teachers, the school staff and the families of all concerned are going to be at a much greater risk.

Young people can be selfish and clueless:

One strong characteristic of young people is selfishness. Not all of them are this way, to be sure, but the brains of young people are still forming and many of them don’t recognize the impact of their behavior on others.

One 21 year-old Florida man defied his parents’ requests and went out partying, coming home to infect his entire family and putting his 42 year-old father in hospital and on a ventilator. I’m sure this wasn’t the young man’s intention, but clearly he was thinking only of himself when he decided to ignore his parents’ wishes.

It’s frightening to think that the safety and welfare of our society is in the hands of selfish, unaware, impulsive young people who can’t envision the consequences of their actions — to themselves or to others.

It’s a real dilemma. We don’t want to become an authoritarian society that imposes harsh penalties on our youth for something as natural to them as partying, but on the other hand, how do we contain the spread of Covid-19 when the youth of today is behaving so recklessly?

Something has to be done:

I’ll leave those decisions to the politicians and the public health experts. What I will say is that something does have to be done. We can’t turn a blind eye to this behavior because it’s becoming a real menace to the health of our society and to the reopening of our schools and our economy.

There’s an old song by the Beastie Boys that goes, “You gotta fight for your right to party.” Under any other set of circumstances I’d be right behind that, but when partying today is responsible for causing so much harm, maybe the lyrics need to be temporarily changed to “You gotta wait for the right time to party.”

Young people need to be reminded that life will get back to normal sometime soon, and that they’re only delaying this return to normalcy with their irresponsible behavior.

If we can convince the young people to be a little bit more patient and to just hold off on the partying for a little while longer, the world can slowly get back to normal and a whole lot of lives can be spared.

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