JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The government has told Americans to avoid groups of more than 10 people and the elderly to stay home while a pointed reminder has been given to millennials to follow the guidelines and avoid social gatherings.
Young adults are a large percentage of coronavirus hospitalizations, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. An analysis of U.S. cases from Feb. 12 to March 16 show that 38% of those hospitalized were younger than 55 years old.
Warnings to practice social distancing didn’t stop many people from gathering today Thursday along Jacksonville’s beaches.
“I would say that we are not taking it as seriously, because, what I’ve read from the media is that it’s primarily affecting people with respiratory conditions, and like, older people,” said Nick Ditomaso, who was at the beach.
Data from the U.S. and Europe says otherwise. Earlier in the week, French health officials reported half of the 300-400 patients treated in an intensive care unit in Paris were younger than 65.
Patrick Popescu, who lives in Jacksonville, wasn’t too concerned.
“Young people -- we understand our body clearly when we are not able to get out of bed comfortably, we know something’s going on with our bodies," he said. “I’m doing a juice fast and that actually boosts my immune system.”
Alexandra Oremus, an artist, felt conflicted being outside, but needs to make money.
“Everyone should probably be staying inside as well as me, but also, I’m also jobless at the moment,” Oremus said.
Public health experts said it’s difficult to compare coronavirus numbers by age across countries because of the limited numbers tested, and because differences may be related to the environment, lifestyles and demographics. However, they stress that the numbers show everyone is at risk.
At a White House news conference Wednesday, Deborah Birx, the response coordinator of the nation’s Coronavirus Task Force, warned about the numbers from France and said, “Young people getting seriously ill and very seriously ill in the ICUs."
She called out younger generations in particular, for not taking the virus seriously, and warned of “disproportional number of infections among that group.”