Northwest Missourian Opinion

The video, first tweeted out by WFLA News in Tampa Bay, has been viewed more than 18 million times on Twitter alone since it made its way to the website at 1:24 p.m. March 16. And it’ll probably be referenced in historical texts years from now when we look back and wonder why the U.S. was hit so hard by COVID-19. 

“Clearwater Beach, Florida, is PACKED today despite ‘social distancing’ recommendations,” the tweet reads, coupled with a link to a news story and aerial footage of thousands of visitors to Clearwater Beach, sunbathing and swimming and lounging and drinking without concern for the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, which first appeared in Wuhan, China, in December 2019.” 

The tweet is just one example among countless depicting the irresponsibility of a country that may have reached an all-time level of irresponsibility, mostly perpetuated by spring breakers who seem to think the virus, which has killed more than 7,500 people worldwide and resulted in the complete shutdown of Italy, can’t be spread on Florida beaches. 

It’s true that the coronavirus affects young people at vastly different rates than it does old, resulting in a fatality rate of 0.2% for 20-to-29 year-olds and 14.8% for anyone older than 80. And it’s true that a lot of spring break trips were planned and paid for months in advance. But the actions of America’s youth this week, still crowding bars and beaches throughout the U.S., have reached a peak degree of selfishness as the virus is still finding its foothold. 

As the Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommended the canceling of gatherings of more than 50 people and as President Donald Trump — who downplayed the virus for more than a month — warned the public to avoid groups larger than 10, hoards of mostly young people went about life like it was business as usual over the weekend and into St. Patrick’s Day, ignoring or indifferent to the virus’s continued spread across all 50 states, which has left more than 100 people dead in America, according to the Washington Post

Those recommendations, among others set forth by the CDC, apply as stringently to young people as they do to old people, New York Times science and health reporter Donald McNeil Jr. said on an episode of “The Daily” March 13, unless those young people are “totally selfish.” 

“Do you know anybody and love anybody who’s older and might be frail?” McNeil said. “You don’t want your last memory of that person being that you gave them the virus that killed them.”

Instead of taking the growing pandemic seriously, it seems, a number of college-aged students have continued on with daily life, unconcerned how their actions may affect themselves, or worse, someone else.

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