Did you see this invitation on Twitter last night? “Please join us in putting a face to those who are vulnerable to the coronavirus,” patient leaders, led by advocate Molly Schreiber (@mollyschreiber) urged. “I am immunocompromised and my life counts. #HighRiskCovid19.”
Schreiber, along with other chronically ill and immunocompromised patients including Charis Hill, Dawn Gibson, Jennifer Walker, Jed Finley, and Ray Bouchard, working with support and cheering from CreakyChats, rallied thousands of patients to use the #HighRiskCovid19 hashtag to share their photo and their story.
At a time when people across the country are still treating social distancing like a prolonged snow day, when too many restaurants and non-essential public places are still overly crowded, when school districts in high-risk locations are still refusing to close, and when the numbers of COVID-19 cases and deaths show no sign of slowing down, this message needs to be heard louder and more clearly.
“Molly brought me into a group of amazing and active patient advocacy folks with this fantastic idea that our lives count also,” says Jennifer Walker, who wrote an impactful essay weeks ago about feeling dismissed in the early coronavirus coverage. “Her message just hit a chord because I am so tired of hearing the language at a federal, state, local level and among friends or at work that I was hysterical or it wasn’t such a big deal.”
High-risk patients’ lives have been ignored. We cannot let them be ignored anymore.
That’s why showing the faces (and hearts and souls) of our country’s most vulnerable people is so important.
“Campaigns that emit emotions are a really powerful way to help people understand the impact of their actions,” says disability advocate Charis Hill, who has written article after article about the forgotten high-risk population during the coronavirus pandemic. “I was hopeful this hashtag would help some people feel seen, but I didn’t expect it to take off like it did, and immediately — within minutes — begin trending and offer real hope for multiple thousands of people. The tweets I saw by some healthy people drove it home; we were making people cry both for finally feeling seen and for seeing us.”
Showing faces is important, says Walker, because “it’s the same theory/idea that truly fights xenophobia and discrimination based on sexual orientation. If folks are exposed to real life people instead of just numbers or an idea then it makes the reality more tangible. It brings the risk into real life instead of abstract. [People] get to see our humanity and how we shouldn’t be dismissed.”
At one point, #HighRiskCovid19 was ranking among the top hashtags on all of Twitter — in the whole country (number 13, to be exact). As of this writing, there have been nearly 85,000 tweets using the hashtag.
“This kind of advocacy effort is vital to help healthy people who may only have mild symptoms realize the impact their actions can have. They can either help save lives by flattening the curve via social distancing, or be part of the problem by continuing to be out in public when they don’t need to,” Hill continues.
Hop on Twitter and contribute your story to #HighRiskCovid19. And while you’re at it, sign on to support our Open Letter: Coronavirus Among the Immunocompromised, Chronically Ill and/or Disabled.
Below, here are 50+ patients’ tweets from the campaign. We had to stop somewhere, so 50ish seemed like a good number. We encourage you to visit the hashtag on Twitter to read and share every single one.
This #Covid19 thing is serious!— Jed Finley (@JediMaster941) March 15, 2020
They tell us that as long as you're healthy, you should be fine!
There are millions of us in the disabled community who are NOT fine!
I'm here to say..
I'm immunocompromised and my life counts! #HighRiskCovid19 pic.twitter.com/rcMnyHEkyT
I I am Ray, I am one of many casually refered to as #HighRiskCOVID19 and #mylifecounts #ourlifescount #autoimmunesystem we are #everywhere and could be #anyone #flattenthecurve #socialdistancing #washyourhands 🧼🤲#arthritisawareness #CreakyJoints @drsanjaygupta #whyirace 🙏💙 pic.twitter.com/48DH9HS8uJ— BionicRA (@RaBionic) March 15, 2020
You can't tell that I'm 1 of many people who are #HighRiskCovid19 by this face. You can't tell my #immunocompromised health is more isolating than ever. You can't tell that a cold can hospitalize me for days. I may look 'fine' but I'd rather not die #CoronaKatie pic.twitter.com/EGJQfIbuLv— Tien Sydnor-Campbell💙🖖🏾💆🏾♀️🧜🏾♀️🧝🏾♀️ (@bodymindconsult) March 15, 2020
I'm in my thirties, I have mild COPD and take steroid inhalers to breath, my mother is currently doing chemo for lung cancer, my father has an implantable heart defibrillator. Seeing us you wouldn't guess we're all #HighRiskCovid19 ....be safe. pic.twitter.com/9IKjQ2ruvu— Christina Nunez (@TechnicallyTina) March 15, 2020
My name is Tina. I’m 48. I am a wife and a mother. My youngest is only 12 and stills needs his mom. I have Rheumatoid Arthritis, Fibromyalgia, P.O.T.S., and I am immune compromised. I would really like to see my son graduate high school. #HighRiskCovid19 pic.twitter.com/WQkaYHKHiQ— 🌸A Happily Ever After Blog🌸 (@TinaBietler) March 15, 2020
I’m an asthmatic— Tinu (@Tinu) March 15, 2020
immunocompromised#Fibromyalgia & #cancer patient.
My life counts as much as anyone’s. Think of people who recovered from cancer, who have illnesses you can’t see.
Beyond how much profit we generate, we matter too.
Since I was 15, I’ve relied on biologic medications that suppress my immune system. I am immunocompromised and my life counts. #HighRiskCovid19#ankylosingspondylitis— Sal Marx (@salmarx11) March 15, 2020
[Image is of a person in a hospital getting a cardiac function test with wires and monitors on their chest.] pic.twitter.com/pXx1NfDipx
My name is Imani Barbarin, I have cerebral palsy, diabetes and sleep apnea. All of these things affect my breathing in their own way.— Crutches&Spice ♿️ : Rude For A Disabled Person (@Imani_Barbarin) March 15, 2020
I have increased risk factors. If I get this virus, it’s life and death. #HighRiskCovid19 pic.twitter.com/mSzayeazda
My brother has Stage 4 lymphoma. He was immunocompromised already back at Christmas, when this photo was taken. He is now more vulnerable than ever to contracting COVID-19.— critical thinking is a cop 🕶 (@criticalthotcop) March 15, 2020
Take social distancing seriously. I will find you.#HighRiskCovid19 pic.twitter.com/MFGW2CoRuc
My name is Sarah and I am #HighRiskCovid19. I have Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and my lung capacity is extremely limited. In January I got a cold and was home for 3 weeks. Please think of me when you don’t take #SocialDistancing seriously. #CripTheVote pic.twitter.com/4wmbfL8JXE— Sarah Jean👩🏼🦼 (@schwegs14) March 15, 2020
My oldest has asthma and any cough he gets can turn into a fever and difficulty breathing for days on end, multiple times a year. My youngest was born with a heart defect and is immunocompromised. Social distancing is imperative for their safety. #HighRiskCovid19 pic.twitter.com/k4kbbOrEFF— Sarah Poorman (@poorman_sarah) March 15, 2020
Had heart surgery 7weeks ago from complications with my lupus which resulted in damage to my lungs impairing my ability to breath right. The medication I’m on makes my immune system pretty much non existent. Your life might not be in danger but mine is #HighRiskCovid19 pic.twitter.com/6JAm0DyoJd— Nalgatime (@PalaciosAyeJay) March 15, 2020
#HighRiskCovid19 I am 21 and I have crohn’s disease. I’ve been on immunosuppressants for 8 months. I was just released from the hospital after 7 days for a severe abdominal infection. If you saw me you’d never know I was high risk. Be smart and be safe, for those around you❤️ pic.twitter.com/Ur3oZX95Bx— Jan (@jenniwetherbee) March 15, 2020
I have a rare disease called #sarcoidosis. It's treated with medication that suppresses my immune system, so I'm more susceptible to a virus like #COVID19, & it would affect me more severely.— 🦋Kerry Wong ~ Float Like a Buttahfly (@buttahflyk) March 15, 2020
I am immunocompromised and my life matters.
I’m a Police Officer. I look fine and day to day have little issues but I suffer from #crohnsdisease. I take immunosuppressive meds to stop my own body fighting itself. I’ll keep doing my job as long as I can but I need people to #WashYourHands and be careful #HighRiskCovid19 pic.twitter.com/aqN7NELe0q— Barry (@Trojandelta) March 15, 2020
#HighRiskCovid19 I am 42 and have Rheumatoid arthritis. I take TWO medications to suppress my immune system so that I can function. I have three children, two at home that need me. My life matters and it especially matters to my children. Please help flatten the curve. pic.twitter.com/S60CKlgXFA— Tree (@krochetnkat) March 15, 2020
I have an autoimmune disease and take immunosuppressants. I spent New Years in the hospital due to severe anemia caused by my illness, and if infected I would very possibly be right back there. Protect those whose immune systems cannot protect themselves. #HighRiskCovid19 <3 pic.twitter.com/z0KBhwg2Id— Nyxie (@Missy_Nyx) March 15, 2020
I’m immunosupressed and compromised. I have severe #AnkylosingSpondylitis & #Crohns, & an #Ileostomy. I take medication that suppresses my immune system.— Samwise ♿️ #CouchCon (@thesamwisest) March 15, 2020
I have to hope my TP supply holds out till stores can restock.
I am not expendable; my life matters #HighRiskCovid19 pic.twitter.com/tfSxdhdxH0
I felt the need to join this hashtag. I’m immunocompromised from my multiple chronic illnesses and the medication I take. My dad has cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure. Your life may not be in danger, but ours would be. Think of others. #HighRiskCovid19 pic.twitter.com/bNw2B4va40— Andrea 🦋 (@AndreaVezner) March 15, 2020
I'm a 3 time cancer survivor. Heart failure survivor. LVAD and ECMO survivor. Heart transplant recipient on life long immune suppressive therapy to keep from rejecting my heart. Diabetic. Kidneys failing.— Stolen Breath (@dream_elephants) March 15, 2020
I am immunocompromised and my life counts.#HighRiskCovid19 pic.twitter.com/w2l9lvXnjq
I’m 17 months into my immunotherapy treatments for my second recurrence of #braincancer. I’ve been getting these treatments every three weeks, but I cannot get them if I’m sick. My body also overreacts to infections.— Jeremy Pivor (@JeremyPivor) March 15, 2020
Please #stayhome! Please #SocialDistance. #HighRiskCovid19 pic.twitter.com/8M2O2P7F7f
If you’re one of the lucky ‘80% who’ll probably be just fine...’ this isn’t about you. This is about the greater good.— Christi Caldwell (@ChristiCaldwell) March 15, 2020
This is my son who is immunocompromised, & I’m asking you to do your part in social distancing for him and for so many others who need us to. #HighRiskCovid19 pic.twitter.com/oaZGLMZdqJ
Health care is never about you, until it is.— Peter Morley (@morethanmySLE) March 15, 2020
I was healthy, until I wasn't.
I understand your fear and anxiety re: #COVIDー19
Since 2007, I've lived with chronic illness & pain, survived cancer twice and live with Lupus.
I AM #HighRiskCovid19 pic.twitter.com/v6DccSHVrs
#HighRiskCovid19 I’m 38 and currently having chemotherapy for the second time in 6 years. There are lots of us who would never describe ourselves as vulnerable but it seems in this #COVIDー19 situation, we are. Please think of us if you’re feeling unwell and #StayAtHome pic.twitter.com/MWOBOC24S7— Gill Slatter (@gibigill) March 15, 2020
hey! i’ve survived sepsis three times, septic shock with liver failure, pulmonary embolism with almost total lung death, pacemaker dependent, and just had my third heart surgery yesterday ❤️ #dontsneezeonme #HighRiskCovid19 pic.twitter.com/KKIUzw4epq— jennyfromtheblox (@jennylorraine6) March 15, 2020
I have hypertensive heart disease, hyperadrenergic postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome, asthma & issues w/ my white blood cells.— Lyn Ventimiglia (Larry David+Emmy Rossum=me🤓) (@lyn_thewriter) March 15, 2020
I am #HighRiskCovid19 & I am *begging* you to practice social distancing bc I am holed up in my attic for the next 14 days terrified to leave pic.twitter.com/7UDLviSZPX
I'm a 65 year old retired nurse with coronary artery disease, a history of cancer and high blood pressure. I am also a father of two. My life matters.— Deflated Baymax (@cassamidy) March 15, 2020
[Image of account owner with his cat owner standing on his right shoulder]
This is my brother-in-law, Josh. One of the side effects of the chemotherapy that saved his life included scarring of the lungs. I encourage you to think of him, those in your own families and others who are tweeting #HighRiskCovid19 when you say, “This virus doesn’t affect me.” pic.twitter.com/trYzpcGFic— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) March 15, 2020
I'm immunocompromised due to having acute lymphoblastic leukaemia I also have type 2 respiratory failure. my life counts.— brent (@brentusmc) March 15, 2020
I want to see this little girl grow up
Listen to us. We are real people.
Share your picture, use this hashtag: #HighRiskCovid19 pic.twitter.com/TQ79w2Vvdr
Don't let my looks or age fool you, I am #HighRiskCovid19 because I live with #invisibleillness #rheumatoidarthritis. The disease and medications make me #immunosuppressed so it is hard for me to fight off infection like #corornavirus #covid19.— Eileen Davidson (@chroniceileen) March 15, 2020
So please #WashYourHands pic.twitter.com/pakdAfQPPm
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