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Editorial: Listen to student on COVID

There’s wisdom in the voices of Livingstone College students and, in particular, Student Body President Carlee Patterson.

“A lot of us thought that, ‘We’re young and we don’t have any sicknesses or health issues. It’s very unlikely for us to get it,’” she said. “For my classmate who also was my age and was also known as a very healthy girl, for her to pass away from it, is definitely a reminder that it’s not just older people who can get it … We can contract it, too.”

Patterson was speaking to news outlets one day after Jamesha Waddell, a senior at Livingstone, died after testing positive for COVID-19. She was 23.

Too much of the public sentiment surrounding the coronavirus has been that there’s no need to worry for those who aren’t elderly or have pre-existing conditions.

The virus does not discriminate. It’s up to individuals to protect themselves and others by taking common precautions.

Notably, it’s important to keep yourself in generally good health by eating right, getting physical activity (preferably outdoors) and spending free time in ways that make you happy.

But it’s most important to wear a mask, wait 6 feet apart, wash your hands regularly, avoid large gatherings entirely and stay away from gatherings outside of your core family group.

The same song and dance about following the three Ws has been replaying for months. Yet, for a large swath of people, the idea that they’re invincible only fades when the coronavirus hits close to home. This mindset presupposes that it’s possible to live life as usual and let the virus run its course. It also ignores the reality that thousands in the state will be taken from their friends and family too early, including many who won’t be sitting at Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner tables this year.

Cases are already spiking, and we know it’s not just a result of more people getting tested before Thanksgiving festivities because of a rising percentage of positive tests in Salisbury and Rowan County. That people across the country will still get together with their families from other cities and states as usual and not take any coronavirus-related precautions means the spike is all but certain to continue. And just because someone survives an infection does not mean that their life will be the same once he or she recovers.

It’s time that everyone take some advice from the younger generation: You can contract it, too.

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