The Student News Site of San Luis Obispo High School




The Student News Site of San Luis Obispo High School



No, Hiking with Your Friends Isn’t Sheltering at Home


  With the state-wide shelter at home order entering into its third week, it’s getting harder and harder to deal with socializing solely through video chats, texts, and other virtual mediums.

The lack of face-to-face contact is particularly frustrating for SLOHS students like myself because we’re used to interacting with dozens of people at school, sports, and other activities.

Some students may have also read news stories reporting that younger people develop milder symptoms in response to COVID-19. This knowledge can make it tempting to push the boundaries of shelter at home by going on walks or hikes with groups of friends because, after all, the order says outdoor physical activity is still allowed, right?

Yes, outdoor activity is still allowed, but that’s contingent on maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from other people. And a quick scroll through your Instagram page right now will confirm what most of us already know: people aren’t maintaining a 6 feet distance.

  So here’s my plea to those of you who think being outside is somehow safer:

Just. Stay. Home.

  Let me convince you why.

  I know we all want to see our friends. I know it feels like it’s better if we’re hanging outside instead of inside. But the true danger isn’t the environment, it’s the gathering itself. And the time to most effectively stop the spread of Covid-19 is now

  You may have seen this graphic on the news or social media, and that’s because it’s incredibly effective at depicting the benefits of social distancing.

  Let’s consider a scenario. Three friends go on a hike together. They don’t maintain six feet distance the whole time because they want a cute photo for their feed or for their snapchat story featuring the social distancing sticker. One of them has Covid-19 but is unaware and asymptomatic, a possibility made more likely by their ages. This individual unknowingly and unintentionally spreads the virus to the other two. 

  Now the temptation here, as people our age, is to say what’s the big deal? We’re in the youngest age group and as a result, statistically have the most mild reactions to Covid-19. We’re at a low risk of dying or of needing to be hospitalized. That may be true. But if those three each go on another hike or outing with two other people later in the week, now we’re at nine people infected. And if those teens infect both their parents, we’ve reached 27 people. And our parents aren’t young, they’re not low risk. If one parent isn’t working from home, their entire workplace is now exposed to the virus. And perhaps your grandparents are too, or your siblings, or your parents’ friends, or the stranger you got a little too close to at the grocery store. 

  You and your friends may not need intensive care, but your parents might. And so might many other adults in our community. San Luis Obispo County had sixty ventilators and intensive care unit (ICU) beds as of March 19. A recent Center of Disease Control (CDC) report analyzing Covid-19 found that 4.9-11.5 percent of those who contracted COVID-19 were admitted to the ICU. Now, that figure is imprecise due to a widespread lack of testing and it will likely change as more data on cases in the United States become available. But even the lower estimate means that having just 1,225 people infected would meet our ICU capacity (4.9 percent of 1,225 is 60). Our county is currently working on expanding our healthcare capacity and the amount of beds available, but it’s our duty to reduce the spread of Covid-19 as best as we can.

  I get that it’s hard not seeing our friends. It’s frustrating and lonely and virtual connections often don’t provide the same intimacy face-to-face interactions do. But we need to stop seeing people for the sake of our families and our community. Having to settle for video chats and text messages instead of in person hangouts sucks. Watching thousands of our community members and relatives require ventilators and intensive care while our hospitals resort to triage and improvised care facilities is worse. 

  So do your part. Just. Stay. Home.

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