April 3, 2020

For many SMU students, like Marie Joung ’20, a senior pre-med biology major and human rights fellow, and her husband, Benjy, sheltering at home during spring break was the right thing to do. Dallas Morning News columnist Sharon Grigsby wrote about the couple’s decision to self-quarantine as the nation’s beaches were packed with revelers. “But here in North Texas, I found plenty of smart young people who are taking the pandemic seriously. They aren’t freaking out over COVID-19, but neither do these unselfish 20-somethings want to contribute to people losing their lives or further destabilize a country they hope to continue living in.”

The following excerpt was published by The Dallas Morning News on March 18, 2020:

EXCERPT

By Sharon Grigsby
The Dallas Morning News

We’ve hardly had time to come to terms with the new normal imposed by the coronavirus, but it shouldn’t look like a day at the beach.

Videos of revelers crowded together on the sand and in oceanfront bars — just daring the pandemic to cancel spring break — have flooded social media this week. The raucous invincibility drowned out the pleadings of Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, to stop this foolish behavior in order to protect themselves and others. …

That’s why Marie and Benjy Joung, sturdy Midwest millennials who have lived in Dallas since 2018, are self-quarantining in their 600-square-foot downtown apartment with their three pet rats, Leonard, Vern, and Nebuchadnezzar. They know the walls of their studio space are likely to close in on them more with each passing week, but they are determined to take deep breaths and stay put to buy time for other Americans.

Marie and Benjy are in great health, but they began socially distancing even before the first cases of coronavirus were reported in North Texas. Since Saturday, except for a few brief, cautious walks, they haven’t left the apartment that’s serving as their 24-7 work, study and living space.

The Joungs don’t want to catch a virus that doctors still know so little about, but their top reason for hunkering down is to protect others. “Neither of us wants to feel like somebody caught the virus because of our irresponsibility,” Benjy told me by phone after his remote workday ended Tuesday night.

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