It was the unofficial motto of Spring Break 2020, captured by Reuters and destined for infamy: "If I get corona, I get corona," Brady Sluder, an Ohio resident visiting Miami for vacation, told the outlet in a video clip that was later shared by CBS News. "At the end of the day, I'm not going to let it stop me from partying."
Now, Sluder has ostensibly seen the error of his ways. As the Cincinnati Enquirer reports, the aspiring rapper posted an apology note to his Instagram on Sunday (March 22). The only other photo on his account is captioned ominously: "Miami tomorrow."
"I would like to sincerely apologize for the insensitive comment I made in regards to COVID-19 while on spring break," he wrote in the image he posted. "I wasn’t aware of the severity of my actions and comments. I’d like to take this time to own up to the mistakes I’ve made and apologize to the people I’ve offended."
Sluder wasn't the only spring breaker to present a cavalier attitude toward the novel coronavirus, and the illness it causes, COVID-19, but the widely-shared CBS News clip featured him as the thumbnail and first person speaking, adding to his notoriety. On March 21, the University of Tampa announced that five of its students, who had been traveling for spring break, tested positive for the virus.
According to a poll by College Reaction, 53 percent of college student respondents had attended a social function held later than March 13, potentially flouting expert recommendations to practice social distancing in an effort to slow the spread of the virus to other people. That same poll found that 90 percent of respondents are concerned about the role they might play as virus vectors, especially to people whose health conditions might make them more vulnerable to serious complications.
While prior evidence suggested that the majority of young people may experience comparatively less severe complications when they contract COVID-19, those statistics are changing by the day. Data by the Center for Disease Control found that young people accounted for 40 percent of coronavirus hospitalizations in the United States; on Tuesday (March 24), officials reported that one person under the age of 18 died as a result of coronavirus complications.
Other polling found that the majority of young people are taking medical precautions seriously. A poll by YouGov conducted on March 17 found that 67 percent of respondents aged 18-24 are practicing social distancing, and College Reaction found that half of young people are afraid of contracting the virus themselves. That fear is potentially compounded by the reality that young people are more likely than any other group to lack health insurance, which may have been exacerbated by the growing number of coronavirus-related layoffs.
"Our generation may feel invincible, like I did when I commented, but we have a responsibility to listen and follow the recommendations in our communities," Sluder said.
You can help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Not everyone has the option to stay at home, but if you can, you should! Social distancing is the new normal, and we’re here to help.