It's becoming clearer by the day that a widely held initial belief about the coronavirus—young people are safe—just isn't true. Or as 26-year-old Fiona Lowenstein writes in a message to her fellow millennials in the New York Times, "our invulnerability to this disease is a myth." Lowenstein is, unfortunately, speaking from firsthand experience. In her op-ed, she describes how she developed a fever and headache on Friday, March 13, and figured she'd be fine riding it out at home. After all, she reasoned, even if it was COVID-19, she was young, an avid exerciser, and had no underlying conditions. Then came the night chills, vomiting, and, worst of all, shortness of breath.
"By Monday, I could barely speak more than a few words without feeling like I was gasping for air," she writes. "I couldn't walk to the bathroom without panting as if I'd run a mile." It was her partner who finally called the hospital, and a doctor urged her to come in. There, she was diagnosed with COVID-19. "As soon as I received an oxygen tube, I began to feel slight relief," she writes. "I was lucky to get to the hospital early in the crisis, and receive very attentive care." (For others, that may not be the case for much longer.) As Lowenstein recovers, she has a particular message for those her own age who are disregarding pleas about social distancing to limit the spread. "Millennials," she writes, "if you can’t be good allies, at least stay home to protect yourselves." (Read her full essay.)