Opinion: Millennials, let’s do our part
In Monday’s White House press briefing, Ambassador Deborah Birx said millennials are the core group that will stop the spread of the coronavirus. By some estimates, millennials are the largest population in the United States. With 73 million people across a 15-year age band, there are a lot of us. I am a millennial. Like many of my agemates, I don’t really like being told what to do, when or how.
But in this time of uncertainty, at the urging of experts and authorities, I’m thinking twice about simple everyday actions and outings, staying indoors, washing my hands more often and practicing social distancing if I do have to go out. (And as guidelines rapidly change, these are becoming more a requirement rather than a recommendation.)
This isn’t the time to selfishly do what I’d like for my own instant gratification; this is the time to think about my parents and grandparents, and my friends and neighbors, especially those who are front line health care workers or may be at greater risk of infection.
I’ve worked for the Global Health Initiative at the Bush Institute for five years, but I’m far from an expert, and I’m not a clinician. I do understand that the virus can be carried by asymptomatic, seemingly healthy people and passed around. In the past 30 days, I can’t even guess how many people I’ve come in contact with; I don’t need to be in contact with any more unnecessarily.
There are people who do have to be out and about — health care workers, first responders and those keeping essential services functioning, for example. I’m grateful for those who are keeping us safe, healthy and making sure we have what we need, but let’s not give the virus more opportunity to spread when we don’t need to.
I also understand that this situation is very serious — for peoples’ lives, for our health care system and for peoples’ livelihoods. I think most people understand that. We’ve read the news and have been warned about what could happen if we don’t follow the guidelines.
Do I worry? Yes, I worry. But I could sit around and worry, or I could channel my energy in more productive ways. So, what am I going to do?
►I’m going to listen to the experts, follow the guidelines and adapt as they change, and I’m going to strongly petition my friends and family to do the same. The latest national guidelines can be found at www.coronavirus.gov, but make sure you’re also paying attention to your state and local authorities as well.
►I’m going to take care of my health — all aspects — physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. I’ll call my family daily, read a book I haven’t gotten to yet, exercise regularly, and tap into my faith.
►I’ll maintain my sense of community in other creative ways. While the Bush Institute staff works from home, some of my colleagues and I have scheduled daily virtual lunch gatherings via video conference. This helps us stay connected, check in on each other, and maintain part of our usual routines.
►I’m going to do what I can to support my community. In Houston where I live, restaurants are open only for take-away orders for at least two weeks. I’ve made a list of my favorite local spots to line up dinner options.
►I’m going to do something for someone else. My Bush Institute colleague Jieun Pyun started an initiative so kids home from school could still have books read to them. I’ll submit a video.
I’m hopeful that we will eventually regain our normalcy, although I’m sure our lives and culture have been changed in ways we can’t yet know. I look forward to having a meeting with colleagues around a conference room table, worshiping with my church family, visiting my grandma at the nursing home where she lives, going out for dinner with my partner and rescheduling a girls’ weekend with dear friends. We will travel, gather and celebrate again, and maybe even take these moments less for granted and cherish them more. But in order to get there, it’s our responsibility to act now.
Also like a millennial, if I’m offered a challenge, I’ll do my best to rise to it. You want us to stay home, watch us! Millennials, let’s do our part.
Crystal Cazier serves as program manager for the Global Health Initiative at the George W. Bush Institute. She wrote this for InsideSources.