COVID19: 20-somethings who realize they can also get infected
First, he told his new roommate, who had fled his apartment because he was afraid of contracting the coronavirus from one of his other five housemates, that he couldn’t see friends in person. Then, he explained that each person in the department had to give detailed accounts of his movements and whereabouts every day.
“It feels like we’re at war, and it’s a different set of rules in wartime,” said Crider, 27. “It is to ease other people’s anxiety. We go to great lengths to talk about what we have been doing. We are on the same page about what is smart and what is not smart to do right now.”
In just a few weeks, as New York City has become a global epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, residents, young and old, have had to rethink how they live. For older people, who knew they were at risk, the changes came quickly. But for young New Yorkers, for whom the appeal of New York has been the ability to move freely around the city to socialize, work, and live, it has been a more gradual process. Now, they are reluctantly beginning to accept that they too are in danger.
While the common misperception has been that only the frail old can get the coronavirus, early testing data in the city has shown that young New Yorkers have also been vulnerable. People ages 18 to 44 accounted for 46% of positive tests, according to city data as of Monday.
“Part of this is because we are evaluating more people as the tests become more available and also because people in this age group were out and did not necessarily participate in social distancing like other age groups,” said the Dr. Danielle Ompad, associate professor of epidemiology at the NYU School of Global Public Health.
So far in New York, no one in the under-44 category has died after contracting the virus, but a report released last week by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that across the United States, the 38% of those hospitalized were between the ages of 20 and 54.
Nationally, 12% of intensive care patients were between 20 and 44 years old. Some experts suggested that vaping could make young people more vulnerable to the virus.
In the early stages of the outbreak, the youth appeared to be unmoved by the threat of the virus. They posted memes and videos of themselves challenging the guidelines on social media. Images of young people lounging on the beach in Florida appeared during spring break. In New York City, crowds of young people continued to frequent bars and restaurants after city and state officials issued guidelines for social distancing.
This behavior prompted New York officials to issue stricter measures, including closing bars, restaurants, gyms, and music venues.
“Young people can get coronavirus,” Governor Andrew M. Cuomo said at a news conference last week in which he brought his daughter Michaela to emphasize his message to young New Yorkers. “That is one of the other myths, young people don’t understand it. Young people understand it and young people can transfer it and you can end up infecting someone and possibly killing someone, if you’re exposed to it.”
On the first Saturday night in the city after the restaurant and bar ban, young people in New York seemed to be listening to the warnings. The neighborhoods that would normally have been bustling with activity were eerily quiet. People were mostly walking in pairs.
Claudia Cruz, 26, and Moriah Berger, 25, met in the East Village for a bite to eat at Lil Frankie’s pizzeria. The couple ate at a nearby park, sitting on separate benches.
Berger said he was aware of the fact that young people could become infected and still show no symptoms.
“I’m concerned that I don’t want to pass it on to someone else, even if I’m not showing symptoms,” Berger said.
City officials have said in recent days that since younger people are less likely to die after contracting the virus, they hope that stricter social distancing measures will lead to fewer young people needing to be tested.
“We need to change as much of our approach as humanely as possible to protect older people who have those pre-existing conditions,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio on Sunday.
Still, some New Yorkers couldn’t resist hanging out with a group of friends on Saturday night after being locked up for what they said seemed like a long time. 23-year-old Johnny Liu ventured out of his apartment for the first time this week, other than going in and out running errands.
“This never happens,” he said, surveying an empty street on the Lower East Side where he normally spends his nights out. “Usually, there are lines around the piano block. There is a line around the block for Hair of the Dog. It’s crazy. ”
He, his roommate, and his roommate’s boyfriend were having a friend. Still, he said they were taking extra precautions. The friend took an Uber. Liu advised him to keep the windows open and gave him a mask when he arrived.
But maintaining the 6-foot social distancing rule in New York was tricky, he said. “How do we do it?” he said. “We just have to get used to saying,” Get away? ”
Even before test data showed they were at risk, many young people already felt the effects of the outbreak on almost everything from their bank accounts to their mental health. Crider said that almost every aspect of his life flipped over within a week.
A week and a half ago, she worked as a part-time teacher. Now she has no income and can’t pay next month’s rent. “Do we have to pay the rent?” She wondered.
Still, despite financial constraints, she agreed to let a friend live with her and her roommate in the already narrow railroad department in Ridgewood. “We are all trying to be polite,” he said, pausing, before adding: “But there was a moment the other day when I went crazy.”
She has experienced intense anxiety and had panic attacks twice already this week.
When he goes out, it’s just for shopping or exercising. During his careers, he often passes through the window of one of his friends, who recently returned from traveling abroad and was ordered by the federal government to isolate himself for two weeks. “I see her at the window and we greet each other,” said Crider.