By now, we’ve all heard this from at least one person in our life: “I’m not worried about catching COVID-19 because I’m young.” That’s the rationale given by the spring breakers partying on the beaches, the travellers taking advantage of cheap deals, or the young professionals crowding the bars.
But being young and healthy isn’t a “Get Out of Jail Free” pass. Young and healthy people can get the coronavirus, and when they do, they can also end up in the hospital, at higher rates than what experts originally expected.
In an early analysis, released by the CDC on March 18, adults between the ages of 20 to 54 made up 38% of the 508 known hospitalizations. Of the confirmed deaths, 20% have been individuals between 20 and 64. Being elderly may put a person at higher risk, but that still doesn’t mean everyone else will be fine.
COVID-19 is serious. For the mild to moderate cases, symptoms range from cold-like symptoms to pneumonia that doesn’t require oxygen. That’s the best case scenario. The worst case scenario, you’ll need to go to the hospital. So far, within the U.S., one out of every eight confirmed cases has required hospitalisation.
Remember how hard it was finding toilet paper or bottled water? Remember going to seven different stores, while cursing hoarders who bought up the entire supply? Remember the collective rage at the guy who bought 17,700 bottles of hand sanitizer?
What if someone you care about gets sick with COVID-19 and instead of needing toilet paper, they need a ventilator in order to breathe? If the rate of infection continues at the current rate, that is the future we are looking at, where there aren’t enough hospital beds or ventilators for everyone who needs one.
That’s why we need to wash our hands. That’s why we need to disinfect our homes. That’s why we have to practice social distancing. Slowing the spread of COVID-19 means hospitals means we will have the necessary infrastructure, including enough doctors, nurses and medical supplies, to treat the critically ill.