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The young might think they are invincible – but experts say there is a rude awakening coming as the world deals with the pandemic spread of the the coronavirus known as COVID-19.

A stark warning, first sounded by European Union health ministers, is now being echoed by the U.S. government. The COVID-19 virus is not, as had been previously thought, an ‘old people’s risk”. People in their 20s, 30s and 40s are getting COVID-19 – and getting it badly.

Colorado COVID-19-by-county-map as of 4 p.m. March 18.

Statistics in France and Italy, and other EU countries show that around 40 percent of those sick enough to be hospitalized are in their 20s and 30s. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has confirmed that this is true here in the U.S.; 40 percent of those hospitalized are ages 20-54. That fact was confirmed during the President’s March 19 press briefing by U.S. Coronavirus Response Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx.

“Of those being tested, we’re seeing 10 to 11 percent testing positive,” said Birx. “As we’ve looked at the statistics – you’ve seen the modeling studies. If you add these together, everyone has the same question about what the impact will be….the absolute key to this is every single American looking at the president’s guidelines and taking this seriously. If even 10-15 percent of the population decides that what they are doing today is more important than stopping the spread of the virus, then it will have dire consequences.”

Image of petri dish courtesy of Wikipedia.

Against a backdrop from the World Health Organization reports there are more than 220,000 cases worldwide, with 9,000 deaths: videos of spring break college students partying on the beaches of Florida.

This is in stark contrast to the extraordinary measures being taken across the rest of the country – including the closing of all Colorado ski resorts – to attempt to slow the spread of this virus.

The specter of hundreds of thousands of 20-somethings returning to their home states from what appears to be a Florida beach petri dish is – to put it mildly – terrifying.

U.S. COVID-19 cases as of noon, March 19 have topped 10,000 with more than 150 deaths.  Cases in New York state topped 2,000 early this morning. Within hours, positive cases rose another 50 percent in New York City; causing the city to order 75 percent of its workforce to go home and stay home.

Colorado statistics

Colorado is matching the European and U.S. statistics: As of this morning, the Colorado statistics were not encouraging:

216 Cases

26 hospitalized

20 counties

2,338 people tested

39 cases in Eagle County (with most cases)

2 deaths

The map of Colorado COVID-19-by-county show neighboring counties to Chaffee reflecting the highest percentage in the state of cases per 100,000 population.

The COVID-19 disease is now reported in 20 Colorado counties, with Chaffee County rimmed by counties with the highest in incidents per 100,000 population. Those four counties, Eagle, Pitkin, Gunnison and Summit counties, account for 65 of the state’s 220 cases.

Younger Age Groups Highly-affected

By age group, a higher percentage of those testing positive are not people over age 60; the highest levels are people in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s – the prime of life. In fact, in Colorado – 50.95 percent of the cases are in the age group between 20 and 49.

An urgent plea (  by a mother in Italy, where the number of deaths has surpassed China, warns parents in the U.S. to be aware of what is coming:

“DO: KEEP THEM AT HOME FOR THE LOVE OF GOD: The only thing that could have saved (or mitigated) this tragedy in Italy is social distancing–a couple of weeks ago.”

“DON’T: ALLOW ANYONE TO AFFIRM THAT THIS IS SIMPLY A FLU BECAUSE THAT’S A LIE,” continues the article. “On the Italian news every evening, there are interviews with ICU nurses who manage to tell their stories as they cry under their masks.”

Historians and medical experts say that this is beginning to mirror the situation documented during the 19818 Spanish flu pandemic; where the highest mortality was among people under age 40. It appears to be that and more. This morning a five-year-old and a six-year-old were diagnosed positive. In New Jersey, three members of a seven-member family have died.

Practice Social Distancing – Now

Chaffee Department of Public Health has put out a strong health advisory —  CCPH-Standing-Health-Order-3.17.20— advising that people of all ages practice social distancing – avoiding gatherings over the size of ten, and any activity that increases your risk of exposure to the virus, which can live on surfaces for 24 hours, and even in the air for 30 minutes or more. Washing hands, wiping down surfaces, avoiding touching other people, maintaining at least a six foot distance from others in social settings, are all personal steps that people can take to minimize their personal risk.

Ark Valley Voice has set up an entire special section of all the stories we’ve published about the COVID-19 pandemic here: .  The most recent stories are in the visual rotator (slide show, use < left and right > icons to navigate).  Earlier stories appear chronologically below. We are updating the situation throughout the day, seven days-a-week, so bookmark AVV to return throughout the day.

To join our effort to bring Chaffee County together to confront this pandemic – add #Chaffeestrong to all your communications.