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If You're This Age, You're More Likely to Get Infected With COVID-19

New data shows it’s not just older people getting infected.
doctor or healthcare worker in protective wear, medical mask and face shield making coronavirus test and taking sample from patient

You've heard that coronavirus is a disease that can leave those 65 and older sick and vulnerable. The CDC itself states that "older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19."

But new data shows that, although older people may suffer from COVID-19 more, younger people may get infected more.

In Florida, for example, the median age for coronavirus patients was once 65. Now it's 37.

"CDC data from mid-March found that about half of U.S. COVID-19 patients with known ages at that time were 55 or older—even though only 29% of the country's population is that old. Over time, though, the data has settled to better reflect the country's overall age distribution (with the exception of kids 19 and younger, who still make up a very small portion of infections)," reports Time. "The CDC's most recent data, published on June 19, shows that nearly 70% of people in the U.S. who tested positive as of May 30 were younger than 60. The median age of U.S. COVID-19 patients during that time was 48, and it's even lower in the country's newer hotspots like Florida and Arizona, where case counts are surging."

Outbreaks Among the Young

That news tracks with the recent headlines. Coronavirus outbreaks have been linked to frat parties and beachgoers—and a music festival in South Carolina, not to mention full restaurants and bars in many states, like one in Florida where COVID-19 broke out, have authorities worried. "As much of the country presses forward with reopening, a growing number of cities and states are finding that the coronavirus outbreak now has a foothold in a younger slice of the population, with people in their 20s and 30s accounting for a larger share of new coronavirus infections," reports NPR. "The demographic shift has emerged in regions with different populations and political approaches to the pandemic—from Washington state and California to Florida and Texas. North Carolina, South Carolina, Arizona, Wisconsin and Colorado also all report clusters that have a larger proportion of young adults than they had previously seen." 

Why Young People Get Infected More

"Some public health experts said the increase is because some younger adults may perceive they are less at risk than their parents or grandparents and are more likely to venture back into society as it reopens — that could mean going to restaurants or social gatherings or returning to the workplace," says NPR.

In Houston, where COVID-19 is currently hitting very hard, the Texas Medical Center wrote an open letter to its citizens, singling out young people. "Young people tend to be more active in communal gathering, which can further contribute to the spread of the virus," the letter stated. "To that end, we implore young citizens to take it upon themselves to commit to physically distance as much as possible and to wear masks when socializing with one another."

"If this trend continues, our hospital system capacity will become overwhelmed, leading us to make difficult choices of delaying much-needed non-COVID care to accommodate a greater number of COVID patients," it continued. "We are therefore calling upon the people of Houston to do their part in helping us to slow the spread of this dangerous virus." As for yourself, no matter your age: Wear a face covering, practice social distancing, wash your hands frequently, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Eat This, Not That! is constantly monitoring the latest food news as it relates to COVID-19 in order to keep you healthy, safe, and informed (and answer your most urgent questions). Here are the precautions you should be taking at the grocery store, the foods you should have on hand, the meal delivery services and restaurant chains offering takeout you need to know about, and ways you can help support those in need. We will continue to update these as new information develops. Click here for all of our COVID-19 coverage, and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date.
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