Nothing but respect for my president, Ariana Grande, who on Sunday (March 15) urged fans to practice social distancing in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.
"I keep hearing from a surprising amount of people statements like 'this isn't a big deal,' we'll be fine,' 'we still have to go about our lives, and it's really blowing my mind," the singer wrote in an image she shared on Twitter. "I understand that is how u [sic] felt weeks ago. But please read about what's going on. Please don't turn a blind eye."
She was referring to the increasing spread of the coronavirus that has never before been identified in humans, and which spreads incredibly quickly. The World Health Organization declared it a pandemic on March 10, and several countries have formally declared states of emergency in an effort to mobilize against spread and help mitigate its toll on hospitals, healthcare workers, and society at large. Experts, meanwhile, have implored people to practice social distancing, by taking pains to keep themselves 6 feet apart from others and limit all non-necessary travel outside their homes if they can.
In her tweet, Grande further called it "incredibly dangerous and selfish to take this situation lightly. The 'we will be fine because we're young' mindset is putting people who aren't young and/or healthy in a lot of danger. You sound stupid and privileged and you need to care about others. Like now."
"Your hip hop yoga class can fucking wait, I promise," she added."
In follow-up tweets, Grande clarified that she understood that many people don't have the luxury of staying home, and that doing so could cost service workers their pay, given that they cannot perform those jobs remotely.
"I understand and support your frustration," she clarified. "I do not mean to disrespect anyone who doesn't have the privilege of cancelled work or being able to call out of their work. But, this is a national emergency and a pandemic of global proportion."
In the United States alone, many governors have banned the congregation of 500 or even 250 people at a time, and tours, festivals, and movies have been postponed or cancelled entirely.
According to Dr. Darien Sutton-Ramsey, an emergency medicine physician in New York, social distancing asks you to rethink attending any "social gathering [of] more than 10 to 20 people. Anything that's not imperative for you to carry on your life, you need to physically distance yourself from it. That includes going to the movie theater, going to a crowded gym or group workout class, and visiting a museum with a large group.” People who work in service or retail jobs, or are otherwise unable to work from home, can ask their employers for extra precautions, and he stresses that they not feel guilty for doing what they need to do to pay their bills.
And Grande is already using her star power to direct fans toward the people who can make change happen on a federal level: Their senators. "Instead of responding with your frustration (that I totally agree with and support) call your senators!", she urged, informing followers of the coronavirus relief bill, called the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which has passed the House and now waits for deliberation in the Senate. (You can identify your senators here.) "Everyone deserves to be financially supported and feel safe at home during this time."
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.