I am young, immunocompromised and exasperated by my generation

By AB Boyd | Cartoonist

Even though I look like a seemingly healthy college student, I suddenly found myself at a higher risk for complications from a new virus most of my peers were not taking seriously.

When COVID-19 first came to light in March 2020, many of my peers felt invincible, as the disease was highlighted as something that only affected the sick and/or elderly adults. I felt hopeless and terrified.

While they were out on a second spring break, I was locked down in quarantine at home. As someone with multiple chronic illnesses, my immune system most likely would not be able to fight off COVID-19, resulting in hospitalization or even death.

Since March, COVID-19 cases have snowballed — 188,000 Americans have died in the past six months, and instead of it being treated as a national tragedy, people — especially the younger generations — are treating the disease as a minor inconvenience. Rage, fear and sadness do not even touch the emotions I have been feeling for months. “You can’t live in fear,” I am told.

Does using an oven mitt to take something out of the oven mean you are living in fear of baking? No. It means you are trying to avoid burning your hand. Masks should be treated the same way, but for some reason they have been politicized. I am frustrated with the number of young people I see online that are advocating against mask-wearing.

When I thought I had COVID-19 the first week of classes, which thankfully ended up just being strep, flu and mono all at once, I had an acquaintance swipe up on my story announcing my sickness saying, “this proves masks don’t work.”

Not only was this annoying, but it proved to me that people don’t understand science, nor do they care to. Masks do work, but only when people choose to wear them. The sicknesses I was diagnosed with can be transmitted through surfaces, which is likely how I got them.

I have been a vigilant mask wearer, and I wish other college students took this as seriously as I do. If they had, the deaths related to COVID-19 would not be as high.

Baylor prides itself on Christian community, and although I believe the university cares deeply for its students… do the students care about each other? The partying, the refusal to wear masks and the social media posts about how the virus is a hoax say otherwise. I am tired of fighting for my rights to public safety and life.

The majority of Baylor students claim Christianity as their religion, and Christians usually take a pro-life stance in politics. However, I have been told many times, whether directly or through social media posts, that my life is less important during this pandemic due to my faulty immune system.

Because wearing a mask is an inconvenience, my life is not worth the hassle to them. It is not pro-life to tell people with comorbidities that their lives (and deaths) don’t count. As Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” I am not seeing this verse lived out.

I am a junior, and I have never felt unsafe on campus until now. The carelessness and ignorance that plagues my fellow classmates is something I have frequent nightmares about. I have cried in anger and in fear more times than I can count over the past two weeks.

My heart is heavy with the foresight of what is coming in the next few months should students carry on the way they have been so far. My life will be affected, my other immunocompromised friends’ lives will be affected, and so will the Waco community.

This virus is not something to brush off. If a healthy student tests positive, they will probably be OK. But what about those they come in contact with in the community? About 27% of Waco’s residents live below the poverty line, many of whom probably don’t have health insurance.

What about them? If they get sick, a hospitalization is not affordable nor feasible for them. If Baylor students love their neighbor, as the Bible instructs, they should take the vulnerable population into consideration. So please, consider someone other than yourself for once.

Christians, especially younger generations, should be leading the fight for better healthcare, better accessibility, and simply for loving other people. Be someone who encourages others to wear a mask. Be someone who fights for the least of these; the sick, the poor, the most vulnerable.

I am exasperated by the selfishness of young people. However, I know there is hope. College students can bring change, but they will have to change.