Covid-19: Young people driving a surge

Covid-19: Young people driving a surge

 “More young people are testing positive for the coronavirus,” said Christina Maxouris in CNN .com, and they’re increasingly thought to be driving case spikes in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and more than 20 other states. State officials alarmed by rising infection rates are pointing to teeming crowds at bars, fraternity parties, and other gatherings. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said people under 30 were driving “an unacceptable rate” of spread because “they are not wearing face masks, they’re not sanitizing their hands, they’re not maintaining social distancing.” In hard-hit Florida, there’s been a “radical” shift among those infected, said Gov. Ron DeSantis, with the median age hitting 37—down from 65 in March. A soaring number of cases among those ages 21 to 30 in South Carolina “serves as a warning that young adults and youth are not immune to Covid-19,” said state health official Brannon Traxler.

The demographic shift has one silver lining, said Caitlin Owens in Axios.com. Those under 30 tend to get mild or asymptomatic cases, and suffer low death and hospitalization rates. But “young people don’t exist in social silos.” When infected, they create “a reservoir of disease” that “can spike to uncontrollable levels” in older adults very quickly, said Judith Malmgren, an epidemiologist at the University of Washington. And plenty of infected young people will get dangerously ill, said Katherine Faulders in ABCNews .com. Matthew Heinz, an internist at Tucson Medical Center, said he’s admitted “many 20-, 22-, 26-year-olds in the past couple of days.” In Dallas County, people under 40 account for more than a fifth of hospitalizations.

The surge in young cases calls for a shift in public health strategy, said Will Stone in NPR .com. Health officials point to the need for messages “tailored to a younger demographic” and spread through social media, perhaps by sports or cultural icons. National health adviser Anthony Fauci went on a podcast to tell young people they’re “an important part of the active plan to contain this epidemic.” St. Petersburg, Fla. is among many municipalities tailoring awareness campaigns to the young, with Mayor Rick Kriseman telling Millennials, “It is time that your generation started taking this more seriously.”

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