An Open Letter To Boomers About Coronavirus: Please Stay Inside For A Bit

As the coronavirus spreads, millennials are finding it's hard to convince their baby boomer parents to take the pandemic seriously.
Stocksy/Getty/Caroline Wurtzel

Dear Boomers,

We get it. You don’t think you’re at risk for coronavirus (COVID-19). You’re not an “old” person. You have never called the manager on anyone, your Facebook messages are not in all caps, and you have never been ill a day in your life. You’re not a regular boomer. Hell, you’re not even just an okay boomer. You’re a cool boomer.

The problem is you’re such a cool boomer that the coronavirus wants you like you want to see the Allman Brothers do an instrumental riff for 12 agonizing minutes. Why? While the coronavirus mortality rate is difficult to calculate and changing rapidly, we do know the virus is particularly lethal you’re over age 65 — in China, 14.8% of patients over 80 died, according to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

Look, we understand. Very likely, you didn’t want to spend your retirement sitting indoors. You especially didn’t want to be sitting indoors not watching sports because no sports are on. This is supposed to be the time when you go out and enjoy life. But if you go to some fun seniors party, or hang out at the beach, as people in Jacksonville have been doing, you’re now gambling with your life. Because already, an increasing number of people are being diagnosed with coronavirus. Idris Elba has it. Tom Hanks has it! Tom Hanks, the guy from that movie you liked!

All you have to do now is stay home — and really, it's all you should do.

Maybe you’ll be fine if you get it. But that’s not a certainty. Maybe after surviving Cold War drills and Vietnam and 9/11, you feel like you’re invulnerable — you’ve been living under a cloud of anxiety for decades. Maybe going to that restaurant or taking that trip feels like an act of protest, like when you marched in the streets or partied in the mud at Woodstock. But now is not the time for that. All you have to do now is stay home — and really, it’s all you should do.

Yes, things are strained between younger generations and the baby boomers, but we do not actually want to see you guys die. If we did, we wouldn’t all be engaging in this surreal role reversal in which we shout no, you can’t go to that party right now. (We learned how to do that from you, when you yelled it at us when we were 17.) We still need to learn more. We do not know how to make Thanksgiving dinner yet. And who will knit stuff for the many, many grandchildren who will be born nine months from now?

So please, stay home. Order the supplies you need to last you a few weeks. Take a note from your kids, the generation who invented Netflix and chill. We’ll help you through this difficult time. We’ll show you how to turn off motion smoothing on your television so everything does not look like a soap opera. We’ll teach you how to play some cool video games.

We’ll even talk to you on the phone about it. And you know how much we hate talking on the phone.

Okay, boomer? Because really. We just want you to be okay.


P.S. Yes, dad, you can still go out and walk the dog in the backyard. That’s fine.