Gulfport teen calls out her peers to do more to prevent the spread of COVID-19

Emerson Morris reads her open letter to young Mississippians encouraging them to be safer...
Emerson Morris reads her open letter to young Mississippians encouraging them to be safer during the coronavrirus.(John Fitzhugh)
Updated: Jul. 29, 2020 at 7:00 PM CDT
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GULFPORT, Miss. (WLOX) - Emerson Morris has a message for the youth of Mississippi.

After seeing people fail to follow simple guidelines to slow the spread of coronavirus, the 15-year-old was inspired to write an open letter.

“I see a lot of people my age, a little bit older a little bit younger, not thinking that this disease, COVID-19, will affect them,” she said during an interview at her home.

The St. Patrick sophomore said she is concerned about the people that she loves that might get sick because of somebody else's careless actions, especially with school about to start.

“I am nervous about going back to school, not necessarily just for me, but about the people I care about, whether they be immunocompromised or the elderly. I do not want to expose them to COVID-19,” she said.

She hopes her letter will make a difference.

“Just to the youth of Mississippi, please recognize your part in the spread of COVID-19. Please recognize that we have an impact on this pandemic, and please take every precaution necessary to help slow the spread of this terrible, terrible disease.”

The full text of Morris’ letter:

An Open Letter to the Youth of Mississippi

As of July 28th, 2020, Mississippi has had 54,299 cases of Covid-19, with 1,342 new cases, 42 deaths, and 969 hospitalizations. This is the largest pandemic that we, as the youth of Mississippi, will most likely face in our lifetime. However, people, including kids and teens, are still hosting large social gatherings, not social distancing, and are either not wearing masks or deliberately wearing masks incorrectly to increase “comfort”. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention, who has been providing information about the pandemic from its start, lays out a clear plan for stopping the spread of Covid-19, which includes wearing masks. Why are many of us not following the guidelines? There are a number of reasons that I have encountered: people believing that their rights are being violated, people believing that they won’t be infected because they are healthy, people being misinformed about the dangers of Covid-19 and the benefits of masks, and so many more.

To truly understand how we, as the future of our community, state, nation, and world, can slow the spread of Covid-19 until the time when there are vaccinations and medicines to fight Covid-19, we simply need to look to public health. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, public health is “the science of protecting and improving the health of people in their communities”. Basically, public health is concerned with protecting the well being of entire populations. Public health can go unnoticed at times, but it is crucial to protecting lives. For example, restaurants must follow certain rules and regulations when it comes to the cleanliness of facilities and handling of food. If these regulations were not in place, many people could fall ill due to the poor quality control.

We need to think about our elderly and immunocompromised, such as our grandparents, parents, friends, and so many others that mean the world to us. Although kids are getting sick and it can be fatal to us, the numbers show that it is much more fatal to the elderly. We should

take precautions not just to protect ourselves but to also protect the elderly and immunocompromised that we care about. I understand that following guidelines can be cumbersome. We, as the youth of Mississippi, need to be aware of our actions surrounding the pandemic and how they may be affecting those around us. We all want to get back to the way things were, but this is our new normal and we have need to follow the guidelines and recommendations from policymakers. We are an action-oriented generation so let our action be in the change in our daily routines. Let’s wear masks, stay socially distant, wash our hands so that we protect ourselves and everyone we come in contact.

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