Friends of a 34-year-old Southern California man who died after contracting the new coronavirus are making an urgent plea about the alarming pandemic with a worldwide death toll that passed 10,000 people.
As they mourn a man they call one of the good guys, the people who were close to Jeffrey Ghazarian, of Glendora, say his death is a reality check for those who think the novel coronavirus only affects seniors.
Ghazarian tested positive for coronavirus on March 13 and was admitted to a hospital the next day. His family said he became sick during a trip to Orlando, Florida, where he visited Disney World and Universal Studios.
He died Thursday at a hospital in Pasadena after spending a week on a ventilator.
“He love life. He always had a smile on his face,” said friend Elizabeth Gregg. “Nothing would slow him down. He overcame so many obstacles.
“He was a care-free young guy, and this affected him in this way.”
At a midday news conference, Los Angeles Department of Health officials said Ghazarian had underlying medical conditions. Director Barbara Ferrer had a stern warning for young people who think they can’t become seriously ill, urging them to avoid large gatherings like parties.
"This virus has infected thousands and thousands of people all across the world, and a large number of them are people that are young," Ferrer said.
The risk is spread across everyone who lives in an area where there's been a COVID-19 pandemic, Ferrer said. Younger people, while they may have a better outcome if they’re healthy, are one of the largest groups of people who have tested positive in Los Angeles County, Ferrer said.
Even if they're not showing severe symptoms, they can pass the virus on to someone else, she added.
Ghazarian was a University of Redlands alum. Friends said he beat testicular cancer four years ago.
“He got through that with no qualms,” said friend Adam Love. “It’s still really raw, not real yet. It feels like this is a bad dream or weird movie or something.”
The family posted on his Facebook page, "Our sweet, loving, fun Jeffrey went to be with Jesus this morning. He suffered a lot and put up a good fight. We will miss our Jeff every day but we are thankful for all the fun happy memories of the times we had together."
Ghazarian is the second person to die in Los Angeles County after contracting COVID-19.
Photos: This Is Daily Life Around SoCal in the Shadow of the COVID-19 Pandemic
On Thursday morning, the California Department of Public Health reported a total of 675 cases statewide and 16 deaths. The overall number of coronavirus cases in L.A. County stood at 231 Thursday.
New data from the Centers for Disease Control indicates that near 40 percent of COVID-19 patients sick enough to require hospitalization are younger than 55.