Walking into work my first day back after having COVID-19, I was nervous about the amount of work I’d be able to do. I work at Starbucks, so things are pretty fast-paced when it comes to getting drinks out to customers. At the end of our morning rush, I felt myself needing to sit down because of my fast heart rate and shortness of breath– my only remaining symptoms. I stumbled up to the counter to take the last customer’s order, and was immediately filled with anger and frustration. As I attempted to ask for her order between subtle gasps for air, I saw her mask that read “This mask is as useless as our governor.” Seeing she was about my age, I instantly knew the mindset she had, “COVID-19 can’t affect me, so why does it even matter?”
While it is urged by most news outlets and many medical sources, such as the Center for disease control (CDC), to wear a mask while out in public and avoid seeing anyone who is not in your immediate family, the false narrative that teens ‘recover quickly’ or ‘are totally asymptomatic’ has caused teenagers to not worry about COVID-19 at all.
Before I had COVID, I was still very cautious and remained safe, only being around a very select few people who agreed to only be around me. I, as many other teenagers, believed that if I got the virus, the only worry I would need to have is being asymptomatic and accidentally spreading it to my coworkers or the nice old lady ordering coffee from me. Once my entire family came down with COVID, though, I found out how mistaken I was.
After being sick for over two weeks, I finally feel that I am going in the right direction with recovery. However, I still am nowhere near 100%. Pacing around my house while talking on the phone forces me to sit down from getting out of breath, and I have to take breaks that are not part of my mandatory lunch and ten at work. The frustration and disappointment that came with being too tired to do my schoolwork and not having an appetite now continues into having to stop while running and waiting for my heart rate to go down, which was an issue that landed me in the hospital twice.
Although I am still dealing with these after-effects of COVID-19 along with the rest of my family, we are still extremely lucky with the way our bodies handled the virus. Saying this, the entirety of my family still felt very ill throughout the course of the virus. Now that I am feeling much more like myself, I look around at people in our community and see the horrible tragedies and losses that this virus has caused more than I ever did before.
The bottom line is that people are dying; although it is obvious that teenagers are not in the clear with this illness, that should not matter. Scrolling through social media and seeing the amount of students at my own school throwing parties, hanging out with multiple different people all the time and showing no regard for other people’s health and wellbeing makes me so disappointed in our community at Manual, not only because of having the virus, but because of knowing of families who have lost loved ones because of it. I know quarantine is difficult and wearing a mask can be a little annoying, but refusing to do so because you want to hang out with your friends is pure selfishness, and other students see that. Seeing other students at large gatherings is frightening not only because I know that they themselves could get very sick, but because they could end up infected with no symptoms and spread it to a high risk member of their family or another, which could lead to a tragedy.
With the promise of a vaccine and a shift in political power, there is hope that this entire nightmare will be over soon, but this does not mean we get to stop fulfilling our duty as citizens and human beings and start doing whatever we want. The safer we are and the more we prioritize the health of ourselves and others, the quicker this will all be over. So do your part as a member of our community and wear your mask, stay home and encourage others to do the same.