Medical student points to lack of COVID messaging for teens, 20-somethings

“Force us to consider how our actions not only impact us, but also other people."
Coronavirus news on phone

CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- With cases of COVID-19 surging nationwide, many are questioning whether younger people are taking safety protocol seriously, but a local medical student said some of the blame belongs to public officials.

Trisha Pendergrast, a second year medical student at Northwestern University, calls the past few months “frustrating.”

“The 20-somethings, we see the 99-percent recovery statistics and we say, ‘oh, it’s fine. If I get it, I’ll be okay,’” she said.

She said that’s where the message from health officials needs to change.

“Force us to consider how our actions not only impact us, but also other people,” she said. “Use specifics, other people that we care about. While the threat may not be specific to us in terms of health or morbidity, it may specific to someone that we care about.”

Another issue Pendergrast sees is a lack of visible information.

“We need to be spreading this information in places that the 20-somethings and teens get it. That means social media. Using Twitter, Tik Tok and Instagram and all of these apps that the younger demographics are using to spread this information and make it more concrete for them," Pendergrast said.

She also points to college campuses.

"Colleges are predictable. If you send them all back to Iowa State then they are going to throw frat parties, that's really not a difficult thing to predict. The question is: why were they back on campus in the first place?" Pendergrast said.

She also fears that allowing bars and restaurants to remain open gives the public the idea that the pandemic is under control, when it’s quite the opposite.

Pendergrast pointed to a startling statistic as Thanksgiving approaches: if 10 people are in a room there's nearly a 100 percent chance at least one of them has COVID-19.

"If that's you, and you don't know and you go home and your grandma is there at Thanksgiving, what is the mortality rate for grandma?" she said.