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03/25/2020 / By Isabelle Z.
If you thought coronavirus was only hitting elderly people hard, think again. More and more young people who are otherwise healthy are experiencing symptoms strong enough to require hospitalization, and one 26-year-old writer recently shared her experience with the New York Times.
Fiona Lowenstein recounted how quickly things went from okay to downright terrifying. As a young, healthy, non-smoker who works out six times a week and teaches yoga, you might think she had little to worry about. However, she says that on the same day she decided to start social distancing out of concern for others, Friday March 13, she came down with a fever and headache. She had a cough the next morning but felt a bit better on Sunday. Her fever was gone, and she was relieved.
However, that night, she woke up with shortness of breath, vomiting and chills. On Monday, talking left her gasping for air and even walking to the bathroom took everything out of her. She couldn’t even eat because she found it impossible to get enough oxygen while she did.
Lowenstein was afraid of going to the hospital, particularly in light of requests that people with coronavirus symptoms stay at home. She didn’t want to spread the virus, nor did she want to use the limited hospital resources that she felt vulnerable populations might need more than her. Another consideration was the fact that if she was not suffering from coronavirus, going to the hospital might just expose her to it.
Unfortunately, she did end up having to go to the hospital after her worried partner called and a doctor insisted she go. The oxygen tube they gave her brought about slight but quick relief, and she feels lucky for the attentive care she was given.
Although she was surprised that this happened to her, the doctors and nurses at the hospital were not. In fact, they told her that an otherwise healthy 30-year-old was in the next room with serious breathing trouble, and they were seeing a lot of patients her age in the ER.
Now, she’s trying to warn Millennials that this illness is something they need to take seriously. Instead of defying warnings and continuing to meet up in groups, they should be doing everything they can to protect vulnerable populations – and themselves.
She said the idea that young people are invulnerable to the illness is a myth. In fact, nearly 40 percent of the people hospitalized with coronavirus in the U.S. are younger than 54, according to the New York Times, while a CDC report showed that as much as a fifth of those hospitalized in the U.S. with coronavirus were aged between 20 and 44. She also pointed out that when doctors are forced to decide to whom they should offer the limited treatment available, it’s often given to younger people first, which means they’re taking away needed care from other people. The idea that some people continue to ignore social distancing advice and create so much risk is mind-boggling.
Speaking on Today, U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams said that the demographics of the disease appear to be quite different in the U.S. than other countries where it hit earlier, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said that 53 percent of cases in his state had been in people aged 18 to 49.
Lowenstein’s warning comes as it emerges that at least one person who attended a “coronavirus party” among young adults in Kentucky has now tested positive for the virus. At the party, young adults got together believing they were invincible and in defiance of state guidance to use social distancing.
The governor of Kentucky, Andy Beshear, spoke for many of us when he said, “This is one that makes me mad, and it should make you mad.” Now is a time when everyone should be sensible to protect not only their health but that of the world at large.
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