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Central Coast sees rise in young people contracting COVID-19

24-year-old in hospital with COVID-19
Dakota Sandoval

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (KION) Adults between around 20 to 30-years-old represent the highest count of COVID-19 cases in Santa Cruz and Monterey County.

24-year-old Dakota Sandoval of Salinas spent five days at Salinas Valley Memorial hospital during his bout with coronavirus.

“If you think you’re invincible, at least think of the ones you love,” Sandoval said.

At times, Sandoval suffered through a 104 degree fever, in what he describes as a couple of the toughest weeks of his life.

“They were the worst aches and pains I’ve every had. If you tried to talk sometimes you’d go on a 5-10 minute coughing fit,” the 24-year-old said.

However, Sandoval is not alone. Of Monterey County’s 1,416 cases, 18 to 34-year-olds make up 40 percent of COVID-19 patients.

There's a similar trend in Santa Cruz County where the same age range represents about 1/3 of cases, and according to the health officer that is trending upwards around the country.

“Younger people feel less vulnerable to the virus, and they're the ones who are generally out and about more often,” Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel said.

Thursday night, the daily 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. closures at Santa Cruz County beaches are over. The growing disregard for the closure, pressured Santa Cruz to lift the restrictions.

“We hoped to continue the beach closure until after the Fourth of July weekend, but it's become impossible for law enforcement to continue to enforce that closure,” Newel said.

Sandoval's message to anyone ignoring the virus is: be safe for those you care about you.

“If you’re not afraid of it for yourself, you should be afraid of it for other people, because to me the scariest thing is you can pass it along without ever knowing you had it,” Sandoval said.

More than a month after recovering, Sandoval said he still has a hard time breathing at times.

Santa Cruz is the last county in the state to lift its beach restrictions.

Monterey County / Santa Cruz County / Top Stories

Drew Andre

Drew Andre is a multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.

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