By Alan Gionet

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (CBS4) – Alexa Huesgen Hobbs is tired of listening to some people about COVID-19.

“It’s definitely frustrating because I had a lot of people telling me that I had nothing to worry about that I would be fine.”

Alexa Huesgen Hobbs (credit: CBS)

Huesgen Hobbs was hit in the early part of the pandemic in March and April.

“COVID doesn’t feel real in a way and unless you’ve actually had it, I completely understand why you might like feel invincible,” she said.

At 19, she dealt with COVID-19 after her return from college. She’s not sure where she got it. It was nearly two weeks after she traveled. Her father had been ill, but she has no medical conditions that would put her at higher risk from the virus.

Still, it got bad.

“One night in particular where I was lying in bed I tried so hard to get a breath in and I just couldn’t.”

She nearly called 911. Alexa is among those younger patients who are hit hard by COVID-19.

“This whole concept that if you’re young, and you get it that you’re not going to get sick or have the risk of dying is just not true,” said Dr. Marc Moss, head of Pulmonary and Critical Care at UCHealth University of Colorado Hospital.

(credit: UCHealth)

He has noticed a surge in cases among those people under age 60. Colorado’s latest numbers bear it out. Among hospitalizations, 57% were 60 and older; 43% are 60 and younger.

There are comorbidities among some, but not all who get seriously ill.

“It is serious. It’s not as bad as if you’re older, but the risk doesn’t go away if you’re younger,” said Moss.

He knows people are growing weary. He and his colleagues are too. He works sometimes 14 hour days and sleeps in the basement at home to keep his family safe.

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Watching the virus creep into a new demographic is a new frustration.

“I think they’re now the population that are getting infected and exposed to the virus,” he noted. “It’s just where the virus is.”

Perhaps because more is being done to mitigate exposure for older people. Also, potentially due to apathy.

“People are fatigued, and people want to get back to their normal life, and I understand that, but we’re in the middle of a pandemic, and we have to do what’s right for ourselves and for our community,” said Moss.

(credit: CBS)

“I had so many friends not take this seriously. Even when I was in quarantine, I had friends being like, ‘once you’re done with the quarantine, we can hang out.’ No that’s not how this works,” said Huesgen Hobbs.

Moving on from COVID-19 was not easy.

“I lost weeks of my life in bed completely bedridden, including my birthday. I spent my 19th birthday in bed being unable to breathe… Little things like walking or running makes me really winded, and there was a period of time for a few months after I got COVID where taking a deep breath would literally hurt my lungs.”

Her lungs are slowly recovering. What bothers her even more now that her senses of taste and smell are coming back, she smells what she describes as burned Play-Doh all the time.

Seeing people deny the disease is also stressful.

“It makes me really upset. I remember getting into arguments with people where they would try and tell me that, ‘Oh COVID is like the flu or whatever.’ Well my great aunt actually died from COVID so that’s someone I’ve personally lost.”

It’s gone from a vicious infection to a personal mission. She told her story in a brief video posted on social media by Gov. Jared Polis. She’d like to help get word out that people need to protect themselves with masks and distancing.

“Yeah, like I didn’t die, but like my lungs still aren’t OK right now. If I could, I would go back and do everything I could to never get this.”

Alan Gionet