COVID-19 an unwelcome rite of passage for teens

By Sarah Brager

In the past month there has been a dramatic spike in confirmed coronavirus cases in Hays County, and young people are playing a big role in the numbers. Young adults ages 20-30 are currently the highest group of positive-cases, but it would come as no shock if kids took their spot with growing rates of infection. Many kids and teenagers are struggling to accept a summer at home, and when Texas establishments began to open their doors, it grew harder to resist.

Many young people still have concerns about enclosed public spaces, such as restaurants and shopping malls, so they have taken to rivers and parks. However, this is not as safe as it may seem. According to local pediatricians Noelle Williams and Julie Fisher, congregating in outdoor areas has brought in a lot of positive cases.

“All of a sudden Texas opened up and families thought it was OK to start doing events and gatherings, like going to the river. At the local swimming places like Five Mile Dam, there’s limited space to go so it’s hard to stay more than six feet apart,” Fisher said.

For some young people, however, getting out of the house is crucial for their mental health. After waving goodbye to the last three months of school, it can be hard to say goodbye to summer as well. Hays High School senior Andrea Delgado expressed her disappointment in the situation saying “all my plans have been cancelled, including my summer vacations.” Despite this, Delgado still understands the importance of staying home during the pandemic.

“I believe it is wrong and ignorant to not consider the rest of the population. I blame the parents for letting their kids go out often and for setting a bad example by going out themselves,” Delgado said.

Getting out of the house occasionally is understandable and encouraged, but it must be done in a safe manner to prevent further spikes in coronavirus cases. Williams and Fisher recommend that people continue to follow CDC guidelines by wearing a mask, remaining six feet apart and washing hands regularly. According to Dr. Fisher, when both healthy and sick people wear masks, the risk of transmission drops to 1.5%. Most importantly, young people must treat the pandemic as a life-threatening issue, because it is.

“I think young people are greatly affected because of false information on social media, and because most of their friends who contract it show low-grade symptoms. It’s not until you really know someone that’s been in the small group of people that’s getting sick that it becomes more realistic,” Williams said.

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