An image from a scanning electron microscope of 019-nCoV, the virus that causes COVID-19, emerging from the surface of cells (pink) cultured in a lab. Photo: NIAID-RML

AMPLIFICATIONS: Listen up, kids

So children, stay home and wash your hands. Stop going to parties. Stop flying around the country. JUST STOP.

You youngsters are killing me.

Literally.

So pay attention: The next one of you who stands in front of an empty shelf anywhere in my vicinity and exclaims, “This is ridiculous,” is going to get a lecture delivered at the top of my lungs, just like the tall young man in Walgreens who recently told me how insane the panic buying has become.

“I am a journalist,” I said. “I have been tracking this virus since December, following predictions, international news and information from the medical community. This is going to be worse than you can imagine. And there is a big difference between fear, preparation and panic buying.” (At that time, a mere week ago, the true panic buying had not yet set in.)

“Yeah, yeah,” he said, walking away and shaking his head.

And you, 20-something supermarket checker who recently tried to tell me that this is overblown because it will only effect a small percentage of the population. “Yes,” I said, “like me with my underlying conditions and my 80-something mother. The doctor told me that if she gets the virus, it will most likely kill her.” I watched as her mouth clamped shut.

But what you also do not understand, oh silly children, is that you are going to be amongst the victims. Most young people will survive, but not before you carry the virus to those around you, including your families. Young people are one of the reasons that we are following the Italian model for COVID-19 and not the Chinese model. Though China was criminally negligent in not letting the rest of the world immediately know about the virus, they were brutally efficient at quarantining it. And in Italy, as we are starting to see here, the virus is beginning to have a devastating effect on younger patients.

Recently, in this country, we have seen clips of insipid college students complaining on television that preparations against getting the virus are overblown and ruining their spring breaks. One young man told a reporter that we should be concentrating on important things, like poverty.

Yes, these are our future leaders. They are also perfect examples of chaos theory. Or did I mean Darwinism?

So children, stay home and wash your hands. Stop going to parties. Stop flying around the country. JUST STOP.

If you need something to do, put on disposable gloves and ask your neighbors what you can do for them. Make a list of your local oldsters and get up early to buy them necessities at the grocery store, pharmacy, pet store or hardware store. Call all the older and vulnerable folks you know and do their essential errands, even if you have to drive a bit to help them. Have them text or email you a list, call or text them the amount spent when you are done. Leave everything on porches or decks or front walks. Ask them to leave their payment in an envelope where you can easily find it. Stay away from your oldsters and frail family, but help them. Use all that extra energy that they may lack.

Contact grocery stores and pharmacies and ask if you can help deliver to those in need. Contact the Berkshire Volunteer Network at (413) 442-6948 x18 or at BerkshireUW@gmail.com. Call your local parish, synagogue or temple.

I do understand that your lives are on hold. Graduations are being cancelled; my own niece is struggling to finish her senior year at home without the necessary tools that she can only access at her college. My nephew is also missing out on the fun of his senior year. It stinks. Joy is being stolen from you. I understand. My own daughter is missing out on the best part of her school year as I write this. But she is also helping me bring supplies to people and doing household projects that have long been ignored. She, like the rest of us, is making the best of things because there is no other choice right now.

All you whippersnappers need to realize that people are dying and they are going to continue to die in large numbers. And as much as I hate to say it, a pandemic trumps your inconvenience. So call food banks and soup kitchens and ask to bring meals to people. Donate blood. Ask at pet food stores and animal shelters if you can help; just wear gloves and be careful. Disinfect and then do it again. Use those youthful brains cells, because if you become an army of volunteers instead of a collection of whineholes, we will all be able to breath easier.

OK, Boomer out.