Young people make up disproportionate number of new U.S. coronavirus cases

  • Many young people aren’t staying socially distant or wearing masks
  • States are reopening too quickly, health experts say
  • Stopping the virus will be impossible without buy in from younger people

Mounting evidence shows that a healthy body and young age are not enough to protect someone from contracting the coronavirus.

As young adults return to social activities in accordance with state reopenings, cases in people aged 20-40 have shot up between 25-35% in some states, according to CNN. As businesses like bars, retail, and event venues reopen, young people are being drawn out into the world from the monotony of shelter in place orders, without masks and disregarding social distancing. Many parts of the country remain divided on the subject of wearing a mask, with some describing mandatory mask laws as a denial of personal freedom. 

Public health experts are describing COVID-19 rates as a forest fire rather than waves. With states opening too quickly and government officials, like the president, flouting advice from the CDC—such as the wearing of masks and social distancing—a sense of false confidence among some Americans has reportedly contributed to skyrocketing rates of infection. 

Long past the point of containing the coronavirus to a series of waves, experts like Mike Osterholm say it’s going to be nearly impossible without the participation of highly mobile young people.

“I think that wherever there’s wood to burn, this fire’s going to burn— and right now we have a lot of susceptible people,” Osterholm, who heads up the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told NBC’s Chuck Todd in a June 21 Meet the Press appearance. “Right now, I don’t see this slowing down through the summer or into the fall. I don’t think we’re going to see one, two and three waves. I think we’re going to just see one very, very difficult forest fire of cases.”

Sources: CNN, NPR, New York Post, NBC

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