COVID-19: Why So Many Coloradans Under 50 Don't Take Virus Seriously

COVID-19: Why So Many Coloradans Under 50 Don't Take Virus Seriously
There certainly appears to be a generation gap regarding how Coloradans react to COVID-19, with younger and young-to-middle-aged folks much likelier than their elders to see health officials' recommendations about facial coverings and social distancing as ridiculous.

This divide can't simply be chalked up to an unfounded sense of invincibility. Youthful arrogance is actually supported to some degree by actual data compiled by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment: While documented deaths from the novel coronavirus in the state have again hit quadruple digits even after an adjustment in the way they're calculated, the number of fatalities among those aged 49 or younger has only just exceeded fifty.

You read right. According to CDPHE data updated at 4 p.m. yesterday, May 25, COVID-19 deaths among Coloradans younger than fifty stands at 51: zero for the 0-9 demographic, two for individuals between ten and nineteen, eight apiece for state residents in their twenties and thirties, and 33 for people in the 40-49 range.

Meanwhile, 1,088 deaths are said to have occurred among Coloradans from COVID-19, as opposed to 1,333 with COVID-19. That's a difference of 245, and while the virus may have contributed to these additional passings, it wasn't listed as the cause of death.

As such, people under fifty may rightly feel that their personal danger of death from infection is extremely low. But that doesn't mean the risk to others is similar. These folks could unwittingly pass COVID-19 to someone else who might be less likely to recover — a scenario that sets up a conflict between self-interest and empathy. For those who only care about the former, however, the statistics support the idea that they will probably live through the current pandemic whether they take safety precautions or not.

Whether that's good for society as a whole is another question. Here are the latest COVID-19 figures related to Coloradans under age fifty.

2.1 percent of cases
0 deaths
0.0 percent of deaths
36 hospitalized
474 not hospitalized
7.06 percent hospitalized

4.37 percent of cases
2 deaths
0.15 percent of deaths
35 hospitalized
1,024 not hospitalized
3.30 percent hospitalized

15.64 percent of cases
8 deaths
0.60 percent of deaths
181 hospitalized
3,607 not hospitalized
4.77 percent hospitalized

17.23 percent of cases
8 deaths
0.60 percent of deaths
339 hospitalized
3,335 not hospitalized
8.11 percent hospitalized

17.28 percent of cases
33 deaths
2.48 percent of deaths
508 hospitalized
3,653 not hospitalized
12.11 percent hospitalized
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts