‘Army of Millennials’: Why We’re Key to Slowing the Pandemic and Saving Lives

Millennials are the "core group" to help slow the spread of Covid-19, says Dr. Deborah Birx of the White House coronavirus response team.

Ambassador Deborah Birx, White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, delivers remarks at a coronavirus update briefing Monday, March 16, 2020. Dr. Birx keeps stressing that young people are the key to stopping COVID-19 from spreading.

By Liberty McArtor Published on March 19, 2020

Millennials, the world needs us right now. Not just to lighten the mood on the web through quarantine TikToks, though we’re certainly experts at laughing through the pain. We’re the key to slowing this pandemic. The actions we take right now could save thousands of lives — maybe tens of thousands.

Millennials, those roughly ages of 20-40, are the “core group” to help slow the spread of COVID-19, said Dr. Deborah Birx on Tuesday. Birx is the response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force.

“Right now we need the army of millennials out there doing everything that they can to protect themselves from getting infected because we know a lot of their cases will be mild or asymptomatic,” she said.

Needed: An ‘Army of Millennials’

Why protect ourselves if our cases will be “mild or asymptomatic?” Because we might not realize we have it!

Meanwhile, we’re the ones most likely to frequent restaurants, bars, stores — places where a lot of people are gathered in close quarters — and we make up a significant percentage of cities’ populations. That means while we “feel fine,” we could spread a virus potentially fatal for others. People like our parents, grandparents, and immunocompromised friends.

Plus, we ourselves are still at risk. Maybe not as much as others, but data recently analyzed by the CDC shows that the danger to our generation was initially underestimated, or under-communicated. The data show that COVID-19 may be hospitalizing those ages 20-44 at a “significantly higher” rate than the flu. And while COVID-19 is still less likely to be fatal for millennials, complications could result in a permanently damaged lung or other organ.

“We can’t do this without the young people cooperating,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases, during a White House press conference Tuesday. “Please cooperate with us.”

That’s why health experts, scientists, and government officials ask that we take such drastic measures. On Monday, the White House issued guidelines asking people to avoid groups of 10 or more, as well as discretionary travel, eating in restaurants, and unnecessarily leaving one’s home.

Exponential Threat

The White House recommendations are based on a report from a group of scientists in the UK. The report estimates that up to 2.2 million people in the U.S. could die if the spread of COVID-19 is not slowed.

That’s why they recommend a comprehensive approach. This not only isolates the at-risk individuals, but requires sacrifices from us all. Sacrifices like working remotely if possible, avoiding public places and large get-togethers — basically, staying home as much as possible.

“We can’t do this without the young people cooperating,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci. “Please cooperate with us.”

It’s also important that we follow these recommendations now. Last Friday The New York Times interviewed Britta and Nick Jewell, a father-daughter pair of infectious disease epidemiologists, about the “exponential effect” of COVID-19, and mitigation efforts.

“The magnitude of the outbreak creeps up on you,” Nick Jewell explained; “it doesn’t look like things are growing very much, and then suddenly they are.”

“Not overwhelming the health care system is certainly the most pressing issue right now,” Britta Jewell added. “Hopefully we can achieve this if we flatten the curve.”

We Were Made for This

“The millennials are incredibly good about getting information out in a clear way. But more importantly, they are incredibly good about understanding how to protect one another, how to protect their parents and how to protect their grandparents,” Birx said.

That’s true. Who better than us, the first generation to grow up with the internet and social media, to spread vital information that could literally save lives?

Dragging millennials for being self-centered is a popular pastime, but research shows we regularly engage in activism on behalf of social issues we deem important. Our values dictate our everyday decisions, like where we shop and work. We’re innovative, passionate, and heavily influenced by each other.

It’s essential that we understand the severity of this pandemic, the danger it poses to vulnerable groups, and the importance of taking action now. Then, we do what we do. We communicate that information to the world in compelling and innovative ways.

Do It for Them

Even considering the now-confirmed increased risk to our own health, it’s still tempting to act as if we’re invincible. After all, we’re young, we’re likely to recover, we have lives to live — so why live in fear, right?

“Don’t get the attitude, ‘Well, I’m young, I’m invulnerable,’” Fauci pleaded Tuesday. “You don’t want to put your loved ones at risk — particularly the ones who are elderly and the ones who have compromised conditions.”

Read Dr. Fauci’s words again. When he talks about loved ones, who do you see? Is it your grandmother fighting cancer? Your buddy who carries an inhaler at all times because he has asthma? Your niece who learned at age 5 that she has Type 1 diabetes? Your dad who battles high blood pressure? Your friend who’s pregnant? These are some of the people at the highest risk of suffering complications, needing intensive care, and possibly dying.

It’s not living in fear to make sacrifices for their sake. It’s the right thing to do.

 

Liberty McArtor, former staff writer of The Stream, is a freelance writer in the great state of Texas, where she lives in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex with her husband and son. Follow her on Twitter @LibertyMcArtor, or learn more about her at LibertyMcArtor.com.

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