I am a healthcare provider at the Telluride Medical Center. I also happen to be a millennial. I am hoping to reach the younger crowds in our community with a simple message.

Stay at home. We are not as invincible as once thought, and we have a social responsibility to contain the spread of COVID19.

New data emerging from the CDC estimates as many as 25 percent of individuals infected will remain asymptomatic throughout their course, while still having the ability to spread on average to *2 – 3 other people, who will then go on to do the same.

And while statistically, young people are less likely to have severe symptoms if we contract COVID-19, these other people we pass the virus to are our neighbors, healthcare providers, parents, grandparents, and children — people who may not be so lucky. We need to recognize that this is not at all about us as individuals.

Look at it this way:

Even more concerning, is that young adults are indeed experiencing severe illnesses and becoming hospitalized.

 Without getting too scientific, there are instances where a strong, healthy immune system can essentially betray a patient infected with COVID19. 

These are called “cytokine storms,” where the immune system keeps raging long after the virus itself is no longer such a threat. The body continues to release inflammatory mediators called cytokines, as a “misguided bid” to keep the body safe. However, these cytokines overwhelm the immune system, attacking multiple organs including the lungs and liver, and may eventually lead to death.

This is thought to be why we are seeing growing numbers of these unsettling cases of teenagers, 20-30 year olds, and other “perfectly healthy” individuals falling victim to COVID19.

With this information, I ask you to please – stay at home. Get outdoors. Get exercise. Do so with your own housemates while practicing physical distancing. Use this time to get creative with an old or new hobby. Use our gift of technology to connect with loved ones and friends. 

Like Dr. Paul Koelliker outlined in his medical moment, this is not the time for dinner at a friend’s home, now is the time to ramp up our efforts to stop the spread of this virus.  

Mixing several different homes and groups of friends, even when trying to be mindful of physical distancing, can set us up for failure and defeat the purpose of our efforts to keep our community safe.

Six feet apart is a further distance than you think.

Warmer, sunnier days are ahead. The mountains will still be there. Your friends will still be there. The more seriously we can take these precautions, the safer our community will be, the sooner we can get back to the people and places and lifestyle we cherish most. 

Elaina Collins, PA-C