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COVID-19 striking younger Georgians more, but why?

Published: Jun. 23, 2020 at 6:05 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Eighteen to 29 is now the leading age group of positive coronavirus cases in Georgia.

While they do not lead in hospitalizations or deaths, the medical community cautions a false sense of security.

While many may wonder if recent protests are the reason for the cause in higher rates, but health officials say it’s much more than that.

May 30 marked the first of marching in the two-state. Nearly four weeks later, local health officials can trace recent peaks in COVID.

“Has enough time lapsed that we can see is this possible that this is from the local protest?” AU Health Chief Medical Officer Phillip Coule said. “Yes.”

Coule argues protests are not solely to blame. He cites summer events and a jump in large celebrations.

“What we do know is that there is a very distinct uptick in cases locally as well as a shift in those cases to younger people,” Coule said. “We’ve seen a 40 percent increase in cases under the age of 35 for people testing positive. So that’s a very dramatic shift”

While our area sees the 40 percent jump in younger people testing positive, statewide they’re leading the totals too. We found, by today, more than 12,000 confirmed cases belonged to the age group 18 to 29.

Two weeks ago was a similar story: daily totals from June 9 show the highest reporting in that same age population.

“I think all of us wish this would just go away,” Coule said. “And I think some people are behaving like it has. It hasn’t gone away. We certainly are seeing less impact from it right now during the summer, but I think it’s the combination of the two things: people acting like this isn’t a problem when it very much is.”

He expects the age trend to continue throughout the summer as state and national guidelines are loosened.

“Luckily that group has a low likelihood of unfortunate events from this, complications,” Coule said. “Low risk does not mean no risk.”

Data still points to the most severe cases within the senior and medically fragile population. But because young adults, from protests to parties, can spread it to their parents and grandparents, we must all, Coule urges, behave as if the risk for the community is equal.

Copyright 2020 WRDW/WAGT. All rights reserved.

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