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The Daily Tar Heel

Column: Your negligence could kill my mom


Liam Bendezu, opinion writer. 

The news cycle of stories concerning the coronavirus is endlessly depressing: Projections of 100,000 to 240,000 deaths in the U.S., widespread lack of necessary medical supplies, and reports of refrigerated trucks for the dead fill our feeds and screens every minute of the day. 

The crisis seems abstract and difficult to imagine. For people with elderly family members or family members with preexisting conditions, the threat of the coronavirus exerts a very real pressure and imprints fear on day-to-day life. My family is one of them; my mom is immunocompromised. 

There are two general reasons people are immunocompromised: because of immunodeficiency and autoimmune disorders. The first describes people whose immune system lacks the ability to fight disease. This can happen either genetically or through extraneous factors, and varies in severity: some have partial immune systems, while others have no immune system at all. The second describes people whose immune system, when faced with often unknown triggers, attacks the body itself. Both are dangerous and require therapy to manage. 

My mom falls into the first category, immunodeficiency. Typically, she goes into our local hospital once a month to receive infusion therapy, which provides her a temporary immune system. It doesn’t put her back to where the average healthy person should be, but it does give her an extra layer of protection for her daily life. 

The coronavirus presents a serious health risk for my mom. Whenever she leaves the house to do typical errands that help support our family, she faces many people who refuse to abide by responsible public health recommendations and the stay-at-home order currently enacted in our state. Although the therapy she receives is helpful, she is still at a higher risk for serious illness or death if she contracts the virus. 

In sum, the virus is particularly dangerous for my mom. 

I take the actions of those who refuse to practice social distancing, proper hygiene and other public health recommendations very personally. Aside from the incalculable number of people that they are putting at risk for contracting the disease, including themselves, their actions have serious implications for the well-being and health of my mother and family as a whole. 

Let me make this clear: If you're someone who has been ignoring the advice of public health officials, you could kill my mother. 

This is not just about her, either. It’s about the abundance of people who are also immunocompromised, who must go out in order to do things that all people need to do for the upkeep of their lives. The unsympathetic, irresponsible and utterly ignorant actions of a few people jeopardize the lives and well-being of anyone who is immunocompromised. 

If you are a member of this group, I urge you to immediately begin abiding by public health recommendations. Your choices and actions indirectly affect the ability of my mom and family to get through this crisis unscathed. 

Think of your mom and how her death would impact you and your family. 

Then, do your part to protect mine.

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