A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study released Friday warned that there is an “urgent need” to address the spread of the coronavirus among young adults.
The study found that increases among transmission in younger people are often a precursor to transmission among older, higher-risk people.
The study examined 767 counties in June and July that were “hot spots,” meaning they had high levels of virus spread. The study found that the spread of the virus, measured by the percentage of positive tests, began rising first in people aged 24 and under, before later rising in older, more vulnerable age groups.
The findings “provide evidence that among young adults, those aged 18–24 years demonstrate the earliest increases in percent positivity; and underscore the importance of reducing transmission from younger populations to those at highest risk for severe illness or death,” the study said
“Addressing transmission among young adults is an urgent public health priority,” it added.
The CDC study’s emphasis on slowing the spread of the virus among young people stands in contrast to the strategy often articulated by President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden campaign raises over M on day of VP debate Trump chastises Whitmer for calling him ‘complicit’ in extremism associated with kidnapping scheme Trump says he hopes to hold rally Saturday despite recent COVID-19 diagnosis MORE to “protect the vulnerable” while allowing younger, lower-risk people to go on with their lives.
“We are aggressively sheltering those at highest risk, especially the elderly, while allowing lower-risk Americans to safely return to work and to school,” Trump said in his Republican National Convention speech in August.
Many experts have warned that given that young people can transmit the disease to older people, the best way to protect the vulnerable is to reduce the spread of the virus overall.
“As we often say in public health: there is no peeing section of the swimming pool,” tweeted Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, tweeted last month. “We’re in this together.”
The study found that positivity rates began increasing for people aged 24 and under 31 days before a county was identified as a hot spot. Older groups’ positivity only started rising later and also peaked after the spread of the virus had already peaked among younger people.
There was regional variation, as the South and West saw more of the trend of transmission among the young later becoming transmission among the old than the Northeast and Midwest.
A separate CDC study released Friday found that young people reported “social or peer pressure to not wear a mask,” as well as “exposure to misinformation” and “conflicting messages” about the importance of masks.
“Exposure to misinformation and unclear messages has been identified as a driver of behavior during an outbreak, underscoring the importance of providing clear and consistent messages about the need for and effectiveness of masks,” the study states.