As the coronavirus outbreak continues, some people are using social media to put a face to those who are most vulnerable and encourage healthy individuals to practice social distancing for the sake of public health.
On Saturday, the hashtag #HighRiskCOVID19 starting trending on Twitter as people used it to share selfies and talk about the disabilities, immunocompromised status and underlying health conditions that put them at even higher risk of getting COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, than others. The hashtag was first created by Molly Schreiber and Charis Hill — both members of CreakyJoints, an organization that supports people with arthritis — before it was picked up by dozens of other people.
COVID-19 is primarily characterized by a fever, dry cough and shortness of breath, and it significantly affects the respiratory system. The disease has infected more than 150,000 people globally and killed at least 5,600 people, and there’s no known cure or vaccine for it.
There’s mounting concern from public health experts that people who feel fine and have no symptoms can still potentially be a carrier for the coronavirus — which means they could be unknowingly spreading it to other people who are more vulnerable and more likely to be hospitalized if they get it. And significant testing shortages mean it’s impossible for some people to know whether they’re infected.
Social distancing refers to a strategy for helping to combat the coronavirus, in which people avoid close physical contact with others — particularly large crowds — to keep it from spreading.
As #HighRiskCOVID19 tweets calling for people to stay home went viral on Saturday, Twitter was also filled with photos of bars and restaurants packed with people who are seemingly unperturbed by the pandemic.
“I have chronic lung disease as a complication of rhematoid arthritis,” one Twitter user wrote.
“Please think of me before you go out. Please help flatten the curve,” she added, referring to the public health goal of slowing down the number of coronavirus cases over time so the health care system isn’t overwhelmed all at once.
Here are a few of the tweets:
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