What we can learn from a teenager with COVID-19

Matt Greenshields recovering at home after being hospitalized in ICU with COVID-19.

Matt Greenshields is a student at the Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary, an athlete and by all accounts, a healthy 19-year-old. But, he is not invincible. He became Alberta’s youngest COVID-19 ICU patient to date.

On March 11 the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. On March 12 Greenshields developed a runny nose and body aches. Twelve days later, after developing a cough and other symptoms, Greenshields was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU) at the South Calgary Health Campus hospital.

As reported by The Canadian Press, he hopes his experience will be a cautionary tale for others, especially young people who he said were “still going to house parties and meeting up when restrictions were being brought in.”

“I could see people on social media who were still having those gatherings. It’s that invincibility factor at my age where they think they’re not going to get it,” he said in a story by Global News.

“I didn’t want to scare people. But when I saw that people were still hanging out with their friends and … not really caring,  I (thought) maybe I should scare them into staying at home.”

In an interview with CTV News, Greenshields says he doesn’t know for sure how he contracted COVID-19 because he wasn’t knowingly exposed to anyone infected.

That’s the thing about airborne infections – you don’t know when you become infected and why. You can’t tell who is constantly exhaling the virus and who isn’t. So we need to assume everyone is carrying this lethal weapon.

While many local teens are abiding by COVID-19 restrictions – not just by “meeting” on social media, but also when going for walks with a friend, each on the opposite side of the street – some still aren’t heeding the directives to maintain two meter separation.

It’s not just teens. As the photos below show, workers around town have been observed working in close quarters without any personal protection equipment. They are not invincible either and, by their carelessness, are putting themselves, their families and our entire community at risk.