In a tragic turn of events, a 34-year-old California man died March 19 after being admitted to the ER less than a week earlier, becoming one of the youngest victims of the coronavirus. Jeffrey Ghazarian visited Walt Disney World and Universal Studios in Florida two weeks ago, his family told TMZ. He spent five days on a ventilator after testing positive for COVID-19 just days after returning from his trip.
According to Ghazarian’s family, he flew from Los Angeles to Orlando on March 2 to attend a work conference, then extended his trip to visit the popular theme parks. On March 7, he developed a cough; Ghazarian flew back to Los Angeles two days later and immediately went to the hospital, his family said. An X-ray found Ghazarian had pneumonia. He was then tested for COVID-19 and told to self-quarantine until his results were available.
His family told TMZ that results came back positive on March 13 and Ghazarian was provided a portable oxygen meter. He was taken by ambulance to the hospital on March 14 as his condition worsened, and quickly transferred to the ICU. The hospital found that approximately 70% of Ghazarian’s lungs were blocked with pneumonia. As a result, the doctors put Ghazarian on a ventilator in order to help his lungs heal. According to his family, Ghazarian was approved for antiviral medication, but it was never administered. “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,” his sister told TMZ.
While Ghazarian reportedly had a history of asthma and frequent childhood bronchitis, making him more vulnerable to the virus, his story highlights the horrific reality COVID-19 has created for many families nationwide. This news comes at a time when a new federal report shows that 20% of patients hospitalized with coronavirus are between the ages of 20 and 44. Prior to this report released Wednesday, many young people assumed they could only be carriers and were not at risk of COVID-19, and that only the elderly and immunocompromised lives were at stake.
Images of a crowded Disney World went viral on March 15 following a recommendation by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to avoid gatherings of 50 or more people. The evening of the recommendation, hundreds of people watched Disney’s “Happily Ever After” fireworks show at the park. Disney sites and social media accounts proudly shared the images of large crowds even as health experts urged people to practice social distancing to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Keeping theme parks open and hosting such a large event in the midst of a pandemic was very irresponsible, as both visitors and park employees were put at risk. With the number of people who attend the parks on a daily basis, Disney should have shut down prior to Monday as news of the coronavirus outbreak spread. While both Disney World and Universal Studios closed that night until March 31, one can only hope that others were not impacted by the virus prior to the parks closing.
See the crowds at Disney on March 15:
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