Traveling During Coronavirus: It’s Not About You

I’m a healthy 31-year-old with a great immune system, but I’m canceling my scheduled trip to Chicago next week. Here’s why.

Like many other millennials, as soon as I saw that flights were dirt cheap, I started hunting for the best deals out there. I booked my roundtrip flight from Austin to Chicago for $67 and four nights at a hostel in a prime part of downtown Chicago for $20 a night. I was pumped. I’ve never been to Chicago, so I was excited to see all the touristy spots, find some hidden local ones, eat ALL the good food, and share my experience with my friends and family on social media. I continued to ignore what most scientists and experts were saying about “social distancing” and “staying home” because I thought, “People are overreacting. It’s just like the flu. I’m healthy. I’m young. Worst-case scenario, I get coronavirus and have to be quarantined for two weeks. I’ll survive it because I’m young and healthy.”

But it’s not about me.

Given the limited amount of testing we have in our country, many more people can be carrying the virus than what has been reported. We don’t really know how many people are carrying the virus. People can go days without exhibiting any symptoms. And while they’re not exhibiting symptoms, they can still be passing it around. Truthfully, I’m still not concerned about contracting it myself because, as I said earlier, I’m young and healthy. But again, it’s not about me. I can get it from someone not showing any symptoms and could then carry it to someone before I show symptoms. People with compromised immune systems are dying because they’re catching it from people who weren’t worried about it. I cannot, with a clear conscience, subject myself to exposure unnecessarily and potentially infect an immune-compromised person, which could then lead to their death. I have friends with compromised immune systems. I have family with compromised immune systems. This is not the time to be selfish. This is not the time to be unnecessarily risky.

It’s better to overreact in times like this than to underreact. The consequences of the latter can potentially kill thousands, if not millions. Think of others. Don’t be selfish. Act as if you have it. Do your part to help stop the spread.

So yeah, I could have gone on my trip. And I probably would have been fine. And yeah, I’m a little bummed. But it’s not about me.

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