Story at a glance

  • “It is obvious that we are seeing right now infections that are targeting younger individuals,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said during a media telebriefing Thursday.
  • Arizona, which has seen a record number of cases and hospitalizations this week, reports people ages 20 to 44 account for nearly half of all cases.
  • In Florida, the median age of those testing positive has dropped to 35, down from 65 in March, according to The New York Times, and Texas reports young people account for the majority of new cases in several urban centers.

Public health officials are warning that younger people are making up a growing number of coronavirus cases in the nation as the virus continues to surge in several states in the southern and western United States. 

As states have largely moved forward with reopening bars, restaurants and offices, the virus has had plenty of opportunity to spread widely across communities, including to people in their 20s, 30s and 40s. 


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“It is obvious that we are seeing right now infections that are targeting younger individuals,” CDC Director Robert Redfield said during a media telebriefing Thursday.


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While younger people face a lower risk of severe illness from the coronavirus, a high infection rate among young individuals who are asymptomatic increases the chances of infecting those who are most vulnerable. 

Arizona, which has seen a record number of cases and hospitalizations this week, reports people ages 20 to 44 account for nearly half of all cases. In Florida, the median age of those testing positive has dropped to 35, down from 65 in March, according to The New York Times, and Texas reports young people account for the majority of new cases in several urban centers. 

Florida on Friday announced it is shutting down bars in an effort to mitigate the spread of the virus after the state reported a single-day record of new infections. Texas took similar measures, one day after hitting pause on its reopening process. 

Redfield on Thursday said younger adults are helping fuel the increase in coronavirus infections.

“Young people, many newly mobile after months of lockdowns, have been getting tested more often in recent weeks and driving the surge in cases in the south and west,” he said. 

“Our best estimate right now is that for every case that was reported, there actually were 10 other infections.”

The CDC Thursday made changes in how it categorizes people who are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. While the agency had previously said those older than 65 faced higher risk, it now removed that age marker, saying risk increases steadily with age. 

Health officials with the CDC said younger people may not be taking the risk of pandemic spread as seriously as they should and are not adhering to guidance on social distancing and masks. CDC officials said they are exploring ways of encouraging young people to practice public health precautions, such as using the popular social media app TikTok. 

“We may need to get out the message that young people are not somehow naturally immune to this virus, although they may be at lower risk of severe infection,” Jay Butler, the CDC’s deputy director for infectious diseases, said during the telebriefing. “The tools that can be used include social media. We’re exploring TikTok."

TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, is an app for making and sharing short videos that appear on a feed. The app has exploded in popularity among young people in recent years.


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Published on Jun 26, 2020