OPINION: A call to young New Yorkers to stay home, from a peer with COVID-19
This year was the start of a decade filled with high expectations and New Year’s resolutions that Generation Z and Millennials declared would change our lives for the better, now and in the future.
But 2020 has taken an unexpected turn due to the coronavirus. We all may be reluctant to accept the fact that a global pandemic has interrupted our daily structure, routines,and the spontaneity of our lives.
It is a challenging experience for millennials, and Generation Z — I can attest to this being a millennial myself.
At first, President Trump told us the virus was under control, that it would be less likely to spread and disrupt our lives.
As a result, we may not have been fully aware of the severity of COVID-19, but it rapidly progressed into a harsh reality.
As for Millennials and Generation Z, it can be difficult to cope with the inability to accomplish what we set out to do.
Unfortunately, we are collectively at a standstill, unable to achieve the goals we set, the plans we made, trips we should take, the birthdays we want to celebrate, the money we need to make, and dreams we will fulfill. These are all very great experiences that are currently hindered and trust me, I understand the disappointment behind it, but what about those who are directly affected by COVID-19?
On March 27, 2020, my life changed when I received the news: I tested positive for COVID-19.
At that moment I was devastated to know that I would be unable to serve the Southeast Queens community and I had become one of the hundreds of thousands of people so far diagnosed.
Prior to receiving the diagnosis, it took an additional week to get the results, and the process was daunting. I began to think about Mayor Bill de Blasio’s statement to those who have flu-like symptoms, that they should stay home; that for those who get a cough or sore throat, we should assume it’s COVID-19.
I stayed home a few days while showing signs of flu-like symptoms to confirm I needed to be tested. Based on the initial reporting on how the virus is contracted, there were claims it would only affect the elderly. Even with that information, I took necessary precautions to remain healthy and safe, but it just doesn’t affect the elderly, we are all at risk.
Millennials and Generation Z are not exempt from COVID-19.
Sadly, I have witnessed my friends and colleagues who are not taking precautions and are moving forward carelessly despite the fact they are putting themselves, their loved ones, and others at risk.
Though you may be healthy, the life of the party, family-oriented and physically fit, COVID-19 will not discriminate against you or your loved ones.
What do I mean by this? Social media reveals the truth behind Generation Z and millennials who are undermining the efforts to stop the coronavirus by inviting friends over to celebrate birthdays, game nights or in-person parties.
Undermining the severity is unacceptable for the sake of saving lives. I strongly urge young adults and millennials to take responsibility and to educate yourselves, take precautions, stay healthy, safe and self-quarantine to prevent contracting the virus or spreading it. I want to speak directly to Generation Z and Millennials: Please stay home.
With that being said, I want to raise awareness of my experience so that Generation Z and millennials are informed of the risks of contracting the virus is not based on age, race or gender.
Facing the illness has been a rough experience for me. The virus has attacked my lung. It has been hard to breathe, especially since I have asthma, high fevers, excessive coughing, body aches, severe headaches and extreme weight loss — 17 pounds to be exact — within a matter of days. I don’t hear many individuals like myself who have candidly expressed what it is like to live with the virus so that others can take it seriously.
I want everyone to remain healthy, to avoid what I am going through and enjoy their lives. I would love to see us all accomplish our goals, take trips, celebrate with our loved ones and party with our friends. Of course, we want to live and experience life the way we see fit, but we have to practice social distancing, understand the importance of quarantining, and shift our perspectives. This is not a punishment. It is just a temporary setback for preventative measures.
During this time, it is essential to reflect on the positive, remain hopeful and rearrange our lives so that we can prove to ourselves that we are resilient, responsible and we can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Although there isn’t a cure, we can flatten the curve if we hold others and ourselves accountable.
We too should express gratitude to our essential workers, the true heroes during this storm.
Being that you can contract the virus and live without any symptoms, the best way to say thank you is to stay inside and remember you are not alone in this fight. Together we will get through this.
James Johnson is a community organizer in Cambria Heights.