Immediate call for social distancing among young people of Pelham


If you had asked me seven days ago what my plans for this Tuesday would be, I’d energetically tell you that I would be attending the annual New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade down Fifth Avenue with my senior class. Being a daughter of an Irish immigrant, it would be my 18th year attending the parade and this year would be extra special since I would be alongside all of my high school friends. It’s known as one of the staple “Senior Year Traditions.” 

But since last weekend things have changed and progressed way too quickly for my anxious, teenage brain. We Pelhamites are now living just a mile and a half from the New Rochelle containment zone. Schools are now facing long-term closure, distance learning is being discussed and fear rises that our last months here at Pelham Memorial High School may be extremely disrupted by COVID-19. While I would certainly rather not have to deal with this global pandemic, I am aware that this has become a reality for not only our Pelham community but the world at large. The sacrifices we will have to make will define our generation and shape us for the future.

Some of you may be thinking, she is young, healthy and not at great risk from this disease, and wondering what all the fuss is about. I hope that I am able to reach you so that you understand that your actions are a critical part of our community, nation and planet getting through this crisis. We all face the choice of whether we want to be part of the containment or part of the spread. In order to slow the spread of this disease and avoid our healthcare system collapsing from overwhelming demand, every individual needs to do their part to slow the spread of disease. This is not about being fearful of our own health but about being cautious, selfless and having compassion for our grandparents and the members of our community who are most vulnerable to COVID-19. 

Many of us are fortunate to be young and healthy and are, therefore, unlikely to get seriously ill or die if we were to contract the disease. However, while young people appear to be less at risk and may have mild or no symptoms with coronavirus, they can still get others sick. We can carry the virus in our bodies and pass it on and become a source of infection. 

Social distancing is the only way for us to stop the virus today. What we do or don’t do over the next few days will have a massive impact on our small community and the national trajectory of coronavirus. Avoiding contact with friends and loved ones is stressful and difficult. Our social norms are clearly established and bringing them to a screeching halt is jarring and uncomfortable.  No one wants to be the party-pooper. But we must do it: Studies show that we are only approximately 11 days behind Italy in terms of the growth trajectory of the disease. We must act now if we want to avoid that country’s fate.

This means not only closing schools and public events, but making the selfless choice to limit large social interactions as much as possible so that we can flatten the curve (as seen in the graph above). If we take action now and all enforce social distancing, we will have a chance to get back the high school year we dreamed of. 

On a positive note, let’s use this experience as a way to unite and strengthen ourselves and our community. We are all in this together: Everyone in our town, our state, our country and our planet. We will eventually defeat this virus and the battle will bring us together and make us stronger than ever before. Our generation will be more resilient, tougher and ready to face the fiercest challenges. We will be stronger as people and as future leaders. Let’s plan on a big St. Paddy’s Day celebration when that day comes.