COVID-19: The Generational Divide


Renee Valdes, CNN

Alke Muirhead (left) visiting her daughter-in-law, Apple, and grandchildren Trevor and Tristan.

Brendan Guillen, Reporter

Despite the COVID-19 death toll exceeding 16,000 in the U.S. alone and quarantine efforts in effect nationwide, there seems to be significant amount of elderly citizens who have decided not to abide by quarantine protocol. Once thought to be the primary victims of the virus, many are still taking to the streets, whether it is to get groceries or to escape cabin fever.

According to a CNN article released Monday evening, there seems to be four primary reasons the elderly are taking to the street: Cabin fever, inability to communicate, a desire for human interaction, and leaving things to chance. The most concerning, however,  is the idea of simply leaving things to chance. For those of us with elderly friends and family, this is another stressor on top of online-oriented classes and being couped up inside. How do we convince the people who say they know better that they simply don’t, and that their actions may only help spread COVID-19?

The general mentality can be summed up by Alke Muirhead, a 95-year-old Santa Fe, New Mexico resident “At my age you better get familiarized with your future. I’m already overstaying my welcome so to speak by many years. So if it happens, it happens.” She had previously taken to driving around and occasionally visiting her daughter-in-law and her two children, but the recent restrictions in New Mexico have limited her visits.

The main things we can do: watch and be attentive. Our grandparents hear about the virus just as we do. Tina Muirhead-Walden, a Dunwoody, Georgia resident, spoke on the the seemingly generation-based issue. “Once you know that your parents [or grandparents] are aware of the dangers and they know what your feelings are, it’s really up to them.”

The US currently has the most cases of the virus, with more than 400,000 infected. That is nearly 3 times the number Spain has, the country with the second highest infection rates. Current quarantine efforts can only benefit the nation and yet people continue to ignore protocol. The number of infected in the U.S. will only increase, especially as the summer creeps closer. Worldwide, there are over 1.5 million people infected.

It’s time for the land of the free to choose social isolation over socialization.