WEB EXCLUSIVE Leaving the house to meet up with friends or inviting classmates over to complete homework assignments may seem harmless for teenagers who are not as likely to suffer complications from COVID-19, but choosing to ignore quarantine measures can hinder the safety of the greater community and containment of the coronavirus.
COVID-19 has caused 6,610 deaths worldwide, according to the World Health Organization, and in order to prevent the Bay Area from adding to the growing list, we must decrease the number of cases and “flatten the curve,” which can only be done with adequate protective measures.
The “curve” refers to the projected change in the number of COVID-19 cases over a period of time. Without intervention, the number of cases will increase exponentially, leading to a steep peak in the curve representing the number of individuals who contract the virus and proportionally will likely need hospitalization or die.
Taking steps such as isolation and social distancing will “flatten” the curve and decrease the peak, representing the slowing of the pandemic outbreak and allowing for health care demands to be met without overwhelming hospitals.
The weeks ahead are not an early spring break or a time to hang out with friends. They are a time of strict isolation and social distancing in order to slow the spread of the virus to vulnerable populations.
Those who are not exhibiting symptoms of the virus can still be carriers of COVID-19 and spread it to other people within a 6-foot radius. The virus can also remain active on surfaces made from a variety of materials for hours to days, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Asymptomatic people ignoring self-quarantine suggestions can unknowingly pass the virus onto more susceptible populations including older adults and people with compromised health conditions who when affected by COVID-19 can have life threatening complications, according to the CDC.
As the curve begins to flatten out in Wuhan, China, the original epicenter of COVID-19, the number of cases in Italy has spiked over the last few weeks while the country was not observing social distancing.
A large number of Italians who are currently in dire need of medical care are dying, and hospitals are so overwhelmed that they cannot adequately care for both individuals with the virus and patients who come in with other unrelated medical problems. In an effort to avoid Italy’s plight, we must take initiative immediately and distance ourselves.
Instead of going out to restaurants, make home cooked meals or order takeout that can be picked up curbside. Instead of taking the dog to crowded dog parks where you are bound to come into contact with other pet owners, go on a run with your dog around the neighborhood.
Stay home to protect family members like grandparents and newborn babies, friends, neighbors with chronic diseases, and yourself.