As cases of COVID-19 continue to surge across the country, understanding how the virus works, who is most likely to get it, and how it commonly spreads are crucial to flattening the curve. Researchers recently spent time studying major outbreaks across the country, and have managed to identify the group of people who are most likely to get the virus first: young adults.
According to a study published by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in their Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) last week, an increase in infections of younger Americans can usually predict an outbreak. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
Increases in Young Person Cases Predicated Surges
"Understanding whether increasing incidence in hotspot counties is predominantly occurring in specific age groups is important for identifying opportunities to prevent or reduce transmission," the study explains.
So, for the study, the CDC analyzed trends in the positivity rate — a precursor of infections, hospitalizations, and death rate — by age group in 767 hotspot counties before and after they were identified as such. What they found is that early increases in the positivity rate of people under the age of 24, often predicted a surge of cases in those 25 and over.
Altogether, "Increases in percent positivity among older age groups began after the increases in younger age groups: Among adults aged 25-44 years, 45-64 years, and ≥65 years, increases began 28 days, 23 days, and 20 days, respectively, before hotspot identification."
"In hotspot counties, particularly those in the South and West, percent positivity increased earliest in younger persons, followed by several weeks of increasing percent positivity among older age groups," they continued. "An increase in the percentage of positive test results in older age groups is likely to result in more hospitalizations, severe illnesses, and deaths."
Peer Pressure is Partly to Blame
Another MMWR report sought to understand why younger people are more likely to spread the virus, interviewing people in Winnebago County, Wisconsin during an outbreak. Researchers claimed that "perceived low severity of disease outcome; perceived responsibility to others; peer pressure; and exposure to misinformation, conflicting messages, or opposing views regarding masks were identified as drivers of behaviors that might influence risk for COVID-19 exposure among young adults."
Therefore, more focus needs to be put on reducing the infection rate amongst younger people — and education might be key.
"Addressing transmission among young adults is an urgent public health priority," the CDC writes in the first report. As for yourself: To get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.