How is Coronavirus Impacting Young People?  And Why are Cases Increasing Among Younger Age Group in the U.S.?

By Sabrina R. Espinoza, Staff Writer

With COVID-19 cases surging in states like California, Texas, and Florida, it’s clear that the pandemic will not be stopped anytime soon. Although the majority of deaths still happen in people older than seventy, cases among younger people are quickly rising across the US. While it’s true that young people have a lower risk of dying from COVID-19, they are not immune to the disastrous effects that the disease can cause to our bodies. They’re also still capable of spreading the illness to other people, even without symptoms. With these facts in mind, let us review the complicated issue of young people and coronavirus.

The Numbers as of August 2020

According to the Center for Disease Controls (CDC), 60.2% of contracted cases have occurred in people aged 5-49 as of August 2020, compared to 38.3% of cases from people aged 50 and over. This means that 22% more cases are being caught by younger age groups, supporting the fact that youth does not equal protection from coronavirus.

A statewide example of increasing cases among young people can be seen in California, which is currently the state with the most coronavirus cases. The California Department of Public Health’s data reveals that California citizens aged 5-49 account for well over half of the state’s cases, at 67.6%.

These numbers from California, along with the US as a whole, show alarming evidence of more and more young people getting COVID-19. Could there be a reason for this phenomenon?

Why Cases Could be Increasing Among Young Americans

Besides things like increased testing and more testing locations, the fact that coronavirus deaths are higher in older age groups could lead young people to believe that the disease will not harm them. As a result, more and more young citizens could become less committed to actions like social distancing, staying home, and wearing a mask, increasing their risk of catching COVID.

Obviously, not all young people are refusing to follow CDC guidelines and every person is different in what they choose to do. Still, the dangerous belief that coronavirus cannot significantly impact people under 50 could be contributing to the larger portion of cases being from young people.

Additionally, frontline jobs, such as being a cashier or delivery driver, are commonly made up of younger citizens, exposing them to more people who could be potential COVID carriers.

Even If Young People are Less Likely to Die from COVID-19, the Effects Can Still be Harmful and Prolonged

Although many cases are mild and have recovery times of less than two weeks, some people, regardless of their health and age, are experiencing symptoms of the disease for as much as three months after getting it. These symptoms include the typical ones like coughing and a tightness in the chest, as well as a heavy fatigue that prevents them from doing certain activities (exercise, walking long distances, etc.).

Furthermore, there has been information about coronavirus causing harm to a person’s lungs and kidneys, suggesting that the disease can have long-term effects on someone’s organs even after recovery. Some victims of coronavirus also report having “brain fog” or difficulty thinking clearly, but the effects of COVID on the brain are unclear.

Even more alarming, however, is the fact that the disease could potentially damage the heart: an analysis of 100 patients by JAMA Cardiology showed that 60% of them had inflammation in the heart’s muscular tissue, 10 weeks after being diagnosed with coronavirus.

Yes, young people dying from COVID-19 is a rare occurrence, but it’s clear that surviving the virus might not be the end of debilitating symptoms for many people.

How can young people or anyone for that matter- lessen their risk of getting Covid-19?

The CDC has been providing helpful guidelines for people to protect themselves and to limit their exposure to the virus. Some of these guidelines include washing your hands with soap for at least twenty seconds, avoiding close contact with people outside of your home, and not touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.  It is also recommended to limit gatherings to less than 10 people and to stay away from crowded areas, like malls, beaches, or restaurants. Wearing a mask will help prevent you from potentially spreading coronavirus to other people, as asymptomatic carriers still have the ability to infect others. Of course, a mask does not replace social distancing, and staying at least six feet away from people is still strongly encouraged.

In conclusion, being a person who is younger than 50 will not prevent someone from getting coronavirus nor will it automatically protect them from having long-term effects. It also doesn’t prevent them from spreading the disease to older, more vulnerable people who are more at risk of having a severe case of coronavirus and dying from it.

In order to decrease the spread of COVID-19 and help the US overcome the virus, young people will need to realize that they are not invincible and should adhere to the safety measures of wearing a mask and social distancing. They should remember that even if they can survive the disease, they can still spread it to older family members or immuno-compromised people.

If both younger and older age groups can work together to follow safety measures, they can help limit the spread of COVID-19 in their communities and save the lives of those most at risk.

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