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Young COVID-19 Patient Shares Warning Ahead Of 4th Of July


A young COVID-19 patient from Salinas has a message for other people his age. He says, if you don’t think you can catch COVID-19, you’re wrong.

COVID-19 cases are increasing among young adults under the age of 35. Dakota Sandoval, who’s 24, tested positive in March. Sandoval says if you think you are invincible, think about the ones you love.

“The scariest thing about this is you can pass it along without ever knowing that you've had it,” Sandoval said to reporters via Zoom Thursday.

Sandoval was working as a bus driver in Utah when he got sick. He drove back home to Salinas where he spent five days in the COVID-19 unit at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital. 

To date, Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System has had 470 positive patients, 81 of which required hospitalization. As of Thursday morning, SVMHS had 8 patients in their COVID-19 unit.

Credit Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System
The COVID-19 Unit at SVMHS has 14 private rooms with negative pressure. Anyone entering must have full PPE, or personal protective gear, on.

When Sandoval returned home from the hospital, he said he was worried about infecting his mom. His grandfather and nephew had to move out of the house.

Sandoval, who has asthma, says the virus caused the worst aches and pains he ever had.

“At some point, you just kind of want to sit there and not watch TV or not do anything, just lay there and stare at the wall. Because if something makes you laugh, you'd go on a five, 10 minute coughing fit,” he said. 

Cases are climbing across the Monterey Bay area. Santa Cruz County Health Officer Dr. Gail Newel said Thursday the county is experiencing a jump in cases, the greatest increase to date. The majority of cases in Santa Cruz County are among people between the ages of 18 and 34.

It’s a similar situation in Monterey County, where the majority of cases are among people between 25 and 35. Monterey County has the highest test positivity rate in the region, at 6.25% as of Thursday. 

SVMHS President/CEO Pete Delgado is warning people to not let their guard down.

“We need to be vigilant in practicing social distancing, covering our faces and washing our hands. This is not a time to become complacent,” Delgado said.

Governor Newsom is now requiring all Californians to wear masks in most settings outside the home. Roughly 195,000 have contracted the virus in California. Sandoval is urging people to wear masks, especially with 4th of July coming up.