Teen Talk: COVID-19 is a defining crisis for a generation


In the past month, the world as we know it has been changed profoundly in ways we never would have thought possible.

As I write this, the coronavirus pandemic has infected over a million people worldwide and nearly 100,000 are already dead. This column is a poor attempt to sum up what I’ve been feeling about everything going on in the world right now, and to hopefully shed a light on some of the things we could be doing better.

In times like these, it is more important than ever for us to stick together, not only within our respective communities, but statewide. Recent talks of transferring infected patients from hospitals in New York City to hospitals farther upstate has caused considerable backlash. This backlash is completely unreasonable. People need to understand that if the state Legislature is discussing moving equipment or patients, it is doing so because it needs to be done. All of those infected deserve the best care possible, regardless of which area of the state they were born in.

The sooner we really start to work together, the sooner we will get through this crisis. 

To advise you to stay home at this point is redundant, but I’ll still say it: stay home. We’ve all been hearing about “flattening the curve” for who knows how long now, but we can’t actually do that unless people stop leaving their houses. The only way to stop this virus from spreading is to cease all physical contact with anyone who does not live with you. If, at the end of all of this, we look at the ratio of recovered patients to dead patients and think all of this social distancing and self-quarantine was an overreaction, that will be a good thing. That will mean it worked. But it won’t unless you stay home.

Any situation where thousands are dead and a nation is literally on lockdown is undoubtedly a time of crisis, and in times of crisis, empathy for other human beings is paramount. Due to the abundant free time I now have, I’ve found myself scrolling through Facebook even more than before, and while I’ve seen countless posts giving condolences to the class of 2020 (and tee ball players nationwide), I have seen nothing on how this situation has affected the class of 2021.

While we may not be graduating in June, junior year is arguably the most important year of high school. Many of a student’s biggest milestones happen this year: SAT’s, ACT’s, leadership conferences, sports and much more.

Many seniors are already set to go to college, but many juniors are just getting started in college preparations and are now set back months. Regents exams have been canceled, and school has now been moved online, making it harder for students with limited internet access to pass. A friend of mine has been preparing for her road test for months now, and it was canceled; another has had five anxiety attacks just in the past week.

The job I had lined up for the summer no longer exists now that Cooperstown Dreams Park is closed for the season, and waitresses are no longer needed at the restaurant where I work — or any restaurant for that matter — leaving me unable to make my car payments. While these problems pale in comparison to the bigger issues now facing the world, they are still real problems. We are young, but we are struggling.

If there is anything I hope people take away from this column, it is that everyone is having a hard time, from emergency room nurses to high school and college students to ordinary families who now have no income.

To young people: the reality is that this will be our generation’s 9/11. The events of the past month and the events of the months to come will define us. But just as our country did all those years ago, we will move forward together. For those of us who were not deemed essential workers, for those of us who are lucky enough to be sitting at home watching the news instead of sitting in the E.R. watching bed after bed fill up with infected patients, I urge you to think about those around you. Pray for them, if you are religious; if not, just have empathy. Keep them in your thoughts.

We are all New Yorkers. We are all Americans. We are all humans. We’ll only get through this together.

Kate Morano is a junior at Morris Central School. Readers can contact her at katefmorano@gmail.com.

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