Wear a mask. Practice social distancing. Wash your hands. Avoid indoor gatherings. Don’t attend house parties.
At this point, we all know what’s needed from us to crush the spread of coronavirus. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infections disease expert, is like a broken record on the subject.
But it’s that last one that young people in particular are having a hard time letting go of. Recent headlines from New Jersey say it all: “Wild pool party shut down by police at New Jersey mansion,” “Jackson police break up party that drew 700 people to home,” “COVID-19 outbreak in Cresskill related to recent house parties.”
House parties have become such an issue that Airbnb, the home rental company, announced last weekend it removed 35 listings in New Jersey for “irresponsible behavior” due to complaints and violations of party policies.
New Jersey is far from alone. Things have gotten so bad in Los Angeles that Mayor Eric Garcetti authorized the city to shut off water and power to homes that are found to host parties that violate the city’s coronavirus restrictions. In Michigan, at least 43 coronavirus cases were linked to just one house party. Another outbreak in Missouri was linked to a party involving over 100 teenagers.
I’m not here to blame anyone. In an odd way, the situation is completely understandable — young people mostly end up with mild symptoms (or none at all), so it’s not surprising many don’t think they’re taking much of a risk by partying with some friends. But somehow they’re missing how easily they can spread the virus to someone with a preexisting condition, or a elderly parent or family member more at risk of serious complications from the virus.
That’s why Fauci is willing to spend his time doing so many interviews on podcasts, cable news shows, and with celebrities ranging from Julia Roberts to Will Smith — hoping to get the message across to young people they play a large role in helping to stop the spread of the virus.
“If you get infected — even if you have no symptoms — you are part of the propagation of the pandemic,” Fauci said Thursday at an event hosted by the Alliance for Health Policy. “Because your getting infected ... means it’s likely you’re going to innocently and inadvertently infect someone else.”
“You can be part of the problem of propagating the outbreak, or you can be part of the solution,” Fauci added. “Don’t be the weak link in the chain.”