As COVID-19 has spread, evidence has shown that older people are at severe risk from this rapidly spreading virus. Recently, the older generation has been under fire from politicians and the general public. (While older adults were designated as an at-risk category based on early data, we now know that people of all ages are at risk.) Dan Patrick, the lieutenant governor of Texas, recently even suggested that “Those of us who are 70-plus, we’ll take care of ourselves, but don’t sacrifice the country.” His reckless comments sparked the Twitter trend #NotDying4WallStreet.

Although some might agree with what he has to say, older adults play an important role in society. They’ve contributed to the economy for decades as members of the workforce and offer a great deal of insight. Many have lived through major events in American history, including World War II. Older folks’ life experiences have helped during crises.

Some of the most important people in my life are older adults. As a granddaughter and volunteer at Bessie’s Hope, a nonprofit organization that brings in people of all age groups to visit nursing homes and assisted living residents, I find this controversy hurtful and extremely offensive.

The health of all Americans matters

We shouldn’t put pressure on older people to risk their safety in order to aid the economy. Older people are the links to our heritage. They’re members of our families and our communities. I love my grandparents, which is why I’m not endangering them by possibly exposing them to the virus. Politicians like Dan Patrick should be concerned with the health of all Americans, not just young people.

Jacklyn Fingerhood Andrews, daughter of Nancy Fingerhood, Change AGEnt and founder of I Too Am Qualified, is a 13 year old student at Wayne Carle Middle School in Westminster, CO. She enjoys basketball, skiing and reading. (In above picture, Jacklyn Fingerhood Andrews (right) with her mother Nancy Fingerhood, and grandmother Phyllis Aboyoun.)

Editor’s note: Thanks to Jacklyn for adding her voice to confirm that younger people care about this crisis and about ageism. Want to learn more about ageism and the coronavirus? Check out our blog on how this crisis has brought ageism to the forefront.