It is day 31 of my “corona-cation,” aka coronavirus vacation, and I’ve had a realization: The coronavirus really sucks.

Josh Brennan

Josh Brennan

Because of the coronavirus, I’m missing my sophomore baseball season, I’m not allowed within six feet of any of my friends, and I’ll likely be losing my entire summer, if not the first semester of my junior year.

But why should I even be following the social distancing rules? As a teenager with no prior health conditions, why should I care if I get infected with a virus that will likely do no more harm to me than a common cold? Why are teenagers even social distancing?

Well, as it turns out, the concern for someone like myself to catch the coronavirus is not so much the effect that the virus will have on me, but the people I could spread it to who may have a more dangerous response. Because this virus is so severely contagious, if we take no measures to prevent the spread, the number of cases will expand exponentially.

If too many people contract the virus at once, then our health care system may get overwhelmed. In other words, if the number of people who are in need of medical attention exceeds the amount of ventilators and intensive care beds that our hospitals have, the doctors won’t have the necessary equipment to save lives. This could put people like our grandparents and those with prior health conditions, such as heart disease or lung problems, at risk.

This is why our schools are closed and why we’re not hanging out together. Everyone must maintain social distance, no matter how harmless the virus may seem to us. The more we spread ourselves out, the slower the virus will spread, and the more time and resources the doctors will have to treat the infected.

This action of slowing the spread of the virus is probably better known by a term you may have heard of: flattening the curve. By flattening the exponential rate at which the virus is spreading, we are not necessarily lessening the number of people who will eventually get the virus. Instead, by social distancing, we are elongating the period of time over which the virus will spread. This, in turn, will lower the spike — or the highest number of cases — down to a point within the capabilities of the hospitals.

Quarantines can help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

Quarantines can help stop the spread of the coronavirus. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention graphic)

As seen in the accompanying graph, an enormous spike is projected if no protective measures are taken. Without social distancing, we will overrun our health care systems’ capacity to treat patients, leaving many people in need with no care.

However, a flatter curve is predicted if we are able to keep our distance. By distancing, we can keep the number of daily cases to a minimum. By flattening the curve, everyone is able to get access to the care they need.

So far, we’re doing a great job! By not seeing each other in person, we are staying within the range that our hospitals can handle, giving our doctors the chance to treat everyone. So let’s keep it up!

The war with the coronavirus is far from over. But if we continue to do our part, we can get through this pandemic and become stronger as a community because of it.

So, yes, social distancing might be the most boring period of my life so far. But as of now, it is our only method of prevention. If sitting on my bed, binge-watching “The Office” in the same pair of flannel pajamas for the next few months is what it takes to save tens of thousands of lives, then I am prepared to do exactly that.

— Josh Brennan is a 10th-grader at Dos Pueblos High School in Goleta.