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Dear Healthy People Who Won't Take Precautions During COVID-19

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Dear healthy people,

Here’s what I’d like you to know as someone with an immune deficiency. Reading a few articles and watching some viral videos does not mean you know more than medical experts. Knowledge about any topic is acquired by a person having interest in that topic over time. Often, but not always, it involves education or professional training. I always thought I wanted the public to be more interested in infectious diseases until now. It seems like every American suddenly is highly opinionated about the COVID-19 pandemic, and everyone arguing on social media is not helping this crisis. I believe we should all follow medical and expert advice — period. And if healthy people can learn one thing from this outbreak, it should be to always take action to minimize the spread of infection. When this pandemic is over, try to keep your reusable mask. You can use it next time you’re sick to prevent the spread of germs. Stay home and try to stay away from others if you are sick, even if it’s a common cold.

Remember, a minor illness for you might turn into a major illness for someone else.

Not all grandmas are “about to die,” and neither are most people with a chronic health condition. Our lives are not worth less than those without a condition. There are plenty of people with health conditions who are valuable members of our society and managing life with their conditions. The adversity people living with illness or disabilities go through builds strength of character. The loss of any life should never be dismissed because of a pre-existing condition. I know it makes healthy people feel better right now, but that does not make it right. Please stop with all the ignorant and insensitive comments on social media.

Following health advice from experts does not make one a “communist, socialist or anti-American.” Everything seems political nowadays, but protecting yourself and everyone around you from a novel virus should not be. Watch whichever news you like; support whichever candidate you like. Whether or not you wear a face mask should not be determined by your political party, but rather by what is going on with the pandemic and what top medical experts say. Refusing to wear a mask or have your temperature taken does not make you a patriot. It just makes you someone who may get or spread COVID-19. It’s never OK to pick on someone with a disability for following medical advice. We are all going through a lot, but I think it’s more important than ever to keep the best parts of our humanity. Attacking an immune deficient patient during a pandemic is not kind or decent by any standards.

Stay-at-home orders mean you stay in your own home with the people you normally live with. It does not mean you throw house parties. It does not mean you go visiting everyone you know in their homes either. If you have these orders in your state, it is to try to stop the virus from spreading. If everyone was able to 100 percent isolate themselves at the same time, we’d have a much less difficult time with it spreading. However, from my perspective, that is not practical or humane.

I believe non-essential workers have a responsibility to keep to themselves the best they can. Please do not deliberately go out and get COVID-19 thinking you can just “get it over with.” You do not know how bad a case you may get, or whether you will end up infecting a health care worker or an at-risk person. We also do not know how long immunity lasts. Long-term effects are not yet known, as this is a new virus, and viral persistence may be experienced by some patients.

The pandemic is not the fault of those of us who are most at risk. High-risk patients did not cause the shutdowns or restrictions; in fact, we are usually the least likely to be out there spreading the virus. Most of us are staying fairly isolated and following instructions. If you want to blame something or someone, I think you should think about all the mixed messages given to the public and the divisions that exist in our country. I believe those two factors are largely responsible for the non-compliance that we have seen from the public. However, it is up to each one of us to be responsible. So please, do your part in keeping yourself and others safe.

What would you like healthy people to know during the COVID-19 pandemic? 

Originally published: October 28, 2020
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