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Columnist Sara Shallenberger writes on the importance of staying home during the pandemic

I've been a little disappointed recently. From social media and the accounts of my friends, I've been seeing lots of people, many of them my age, paying little attention to the social distancing measures that keep us safe. I see big groups of friends (mine included) walking around the neighborhood, practically shoulder-to-shoulder. On social media I witness big groups of teens posing for pictures, their bodies pressed close together. I've seen people claim they'll be "6 feet apart the entire time," then blatantly violate their promise. The truth is we're social creatures — no matter how introverted you are, we all need some sort of touch and interaction. It's incredibly hard to social distance — but when you consider all those making sacrifices during this time, it's just plain selfish not to do so.UPLOADED BY: HOLLEY, CLAIRE - SHALLENBERGER

Healthcare professionals risk their lives every single day to save people from this virus. Our essential workers, many of whom are low-income, go to work every day to provide us food, electricity, and other comforts. Millions have lost their jobs because of the coronavirus, and unemployment numbers will only rise the longer this virus spreads. It blows my mind that the same people who pledge their support to essential workers and helping the unemployed could simultaneously be so disrespectful of these people by contributing to the spread of the virus.

Some try to argue that they've been hanging out with this group of friends since day 1 of the social distancing measures — they're a unit, they say, and the virus wouldn't spread outside their friend group. I've heard others say "I've already gotten it. I'm immune," citing a bad cold they had back at the beginning of March. The holes in these arguments are gaping. What about your mother who's a nurse? Or your friend's brother, who's still working at the gas station? If you have the virus, or get it from this "unit" of friends, won't it be spread to these essential workers, who in turn will infect others?

To the second argument: Have you really been tested for the virus? Are you really immune, or are you just desperately hoping that your bad cold two months ago will protect you and others? It saddens me to hear these excuses, because it demonstrates a level of ignorance and nonchalance not appropriate for a national emergency.

If you hang out with your friends, you probably won't see the effects of your socializing directly. But they will be felt. Perhaps the virus you didn't know you had went to your friend, who gave it to his brother, a delivery driver who delivered a pizza to an elderly man no match for the coronavirus. Or maybe another friend gives you the virus, which you pass on to your mother, who works at a hospital. She might give it to someone vulnerable while working, or her illness is discovered and the hospital loses a much-needed employee while she recovers. Is this the type of sick lottery game we want to play with lives? I think we would all agree that it's not. It's unimaginably hard to stay home. But for those of us who can, we need to be grateful for our safety (healthy people with no underlying conditions have died!) and the workers who risk their lives and their family's lives every day to get us through the pandemic. We need to have faith that our sacrifices will be worth it in the end, when everyone — not just the healthy few — can go back to normal. It's not just a saying — staying home really does save lives.

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