If Your Aging Parents Are Ignoring Coronavirus Risks, You’re Not Alone
“They literally just popped some Airborne—that Vitamin C chewable thing—and said they’d be fine. I’m so legitimately worried for them both.”
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared COVID-19 a pandemic. There are now more than 125,000 confirmed cases in 118 countries, with more than 1,000 confirmed cases here in the United States (a number that’s likely to climb as testing efforts increase). The CDC has said the spread could continue into 2021. It’s officially getting Bad Out There. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has said it’s probably going to get worse.
WHO data indicates that people over the age of 60 are at a greater risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19, with those over 80 experiencing the highest death rate. Which is why the CDC has recommended that people who are older (and, well, everyone) stay away from crowds and—here’s the big one—avoid nonessential travel.
Not that you’d know it from the cruise selfies your aunt Linda and the rest of the U.S.’s 50-plus population have been posting. The WHO and CDC’s advice doesn’t seem to have landed with America’s boomer and boomer-adjacent population, whose children say their folks either don’t believe that the disease isn’t as serious as it’s made out to be, or think that being in their 60s doesn’t really put them at risk. And not every insisted-upon trip is to a glamorous, once-in-a-lifetime destination. “My dad has a conference in Indiana and he still wants to go,” said Dan Samorodnitsky, who lives in Minneapolis. “He’s risking his life for West Lafayette.”
Many of the nation’s boomers (and those slightly older) are committed to taking their planned vacations and going about life as normal, leading to a role reversal with their adult children, who are begging them to cancel trips and take other precautions. Twitter is full of stories from young people whose parents simply won’t consider postponing that getaway—ongoing pandemic be damned.