According to the CDC, 80% of Covid-19 related deaths have been among those aged 65 and older. Those who have serious medical conditions or are of older age are considered high-risk people. Senior Liana Burfoot and sophomore Katie Doran live with their grandparents, causing them to take extra precautions to keep their family members safe.
“My grandma, who my family has taken care of for my whole life, is 94”, said Burfoot. “She has Parkinson’s and cannot stand up or walk on her own, and my family and I help her with daily tasks.”
“Our grandparents are currently living with us, so they’re in the highest-risk age category— they’re both in their 80s,” said Doran. “My grandfather is diabetic, which increases the risks of severe side effects if he does get sick.”
Burfoot and Doran are extra cautious about leaving the house. Doran still “quarantines” as her family did in March. She said, “A lot of people got tired of following health guidelines and started going out more again. But with high-risk people in my family, we never really had the choice of ignoring guidelines. We minimize the time we spend in public places, and when we do go out, we social distance and wear masks.”
Burfoot’s family also works to minimize risk. “We initially completely stayed away from takeout, but there are times when there is no time to cook and we order food,” she said. “When we get groceries, only one person in the family goes to reduce the risk.”
When the pandemic came, both students were alarmed. Doran stated, “I knew from the start that my grandparents were high-risk. I think there was this initial wave where everyone panicked and was super careful not to get sick, my family included.”
After the virus was labeled as a pandemic, Burfoot “started to get a little anxious.” She added, “There was a period where I was really scared, but over time I became less worried because of the effectiveness of staying home and wearing a mask wherever you go.”
Living with people at high-risk creates a greater responsibility to follow the safety guidelines. “I definitely do feel responsible for my family’s safety, as I would say I am the person in the house that goes for walks or sees friends the most often,” said Burfoot.
With the implementation of distance learning, the students were relieved.
“When the numbers started skyrocketing, I was glad that we had switched to distance learning before it became as big of a catastrophe as it is now,” said Burfoot. “I was a little scared in the first few months, but I am much less worried now because I only leave the house one to two times a week.”
Doran held a similar opinion. “Distance learning was definitely the best and safest choice for families like mine—and for everyone in general—to be able to stay healthy. At this point in the pandemic, I would not want to go back to school. I think that would be irresponsible regardless of who you live with.”
Nonetheless, Burfoot and Doran are able to safely keep in contact with their friends.
“My friends are really great, and it’s nice to be able to stay in touch and talk to them even if we can’t meet face-to-face,” said Doran. Burfoot stated, “My friends understand that I have a high-risk family member in the house and I am very appreciative of that.”
Doran said, “I think everyone in general has an obligation to protect the community right now, not just people who have high-risk family members.”