The major thrust of new coronavirus cases in the United States is in the South and West, where officials say more young people are ignoring social distancing measures and testing positive.
Young people are more likely to have milder outcomes from coronavirus, but they can still infect others who are more at risk.
“With younger age of recent infections in at least some places such as Florida, expect a lower death rate in this wave … until the 20-40 year olds who are infected today go on to infect others,” Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Twitter.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told Axios that the recent high number of cases in young people is “not surprising.” Like Frieden, he warned of what’s to come.
“They get infected first, then they come home, and then they infect the older people. The older people get the complications, and then they go to the hospitals,” Fauci said. “The death rate always lags several weeks behind the infection rate.”
The focus on young coronavirus-positive patients comes as nearly half of states are reporting a rise in new positive cases and some continue to break records in their daily reported cases.
The increases highlight America’s systemic failure to control the pandemic, a sharp contrast to its trajectory in Europe and Asia. There, coronavirus cases sharply increased in early 2020, were met with fierce efforts to stop its spread and have since rapidly declined.
In the US, the first wave of coronavirus still isn’t over. In fact, cases took just a small dip and are now increasing months after the pandemic hit American shores.
“I don’t think we have the luxury of talking about a second wave right now because we have not gotten out of the first wave,” CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said. “And it’s not clear that we will get out of the first wave. Instead of actually having a true ebb and flow, it may just be micro and macro peaks for the foreseeable future.”
Masks and social distancing
Across the US, experts are highlighting the need for social distancing and face covers. But parts of the country remain divided on wearing face masks in public, and more officials have had to consider making face covers in public a requirement.
As those discussions take place, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it will soon make an updated recommendation on the public health benefits on masks, a senior agency official told CNN.
The CDC has so far been conducting a scientific review on the topic, and a senior official with knowledge of the review says researchers are studying whether masks are not only “good for source control — and keeping you from giving it to others — but we’re also seeing if masks are going to protect you from getting (Covid-19) yourself.”
Dr. Zeke Emanuel, who was a health care adviser to President Barack Obama and is a current adviser to Joe Biden’s presidential campaign, said the initial resistance to widespread mask usage was wrong.
“Closing down businesses — it’s clear what the cost is. Wearing a mask — there’s no cost. And I think we got it wrong,” he said.
Young groups testing positive for coronavirus
Across the South, some officials are raising alarm about an increased number of younger people testing positive for the virus.
In Mississippi, where one health officer called adherence to social distancing over the past weeks “overwhelmingly disappointing,” officials attributed clusters of new cases to fraternity rush parties.
In Texas, the governor said last week people under 30 made up a majority of new coronavirus cases in several counties. He said that increase in young infected people could be related to Memorial Day parties, visits to bars or other gatherings.
And in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis said Saturday cases are “shifting in a radical direction” toward populations in their 20s and 30s.
Those younger groups, he said, are mostly asymptomatic and don’t require clinical attention.
Experts have raised alarm about Florida’s climbing cases, saying the state could become the next US coronavirus epicenter. On Saturday, Florida reported 4,049 new cases — the most reported in a single day.
States doing better and states doing worse
There are 23 states seeing a rise in new reported cases compared to the previous week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University: Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Washington, West Virginia and Wyoming.
In California, the number of people hospitalized with coronavirus is the highest it’s been since the beginning of the pandemic. Across the state, 3,574 people were hospitalized Saturday. The state also reported the most new cases in a single day — 4,515 — since the pandemic’s start, according to data from the state’s health department.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced last week residents were required to wear a face covering in “high risk” settings, including indoor public space, public transportation or while seeking medical care.
In Texas, one of the first states to push forward with reopening, one mayor said he wished the state reopened more slowly while following coronavirus restrictions.
“When the governor started reopening, I wish he had done it a little slowly so we could have seen the numbers in each one of the phases before we moved on to the next phase,” Austin Mayor Steve Adler said Sunday night.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott insists there’s no cause for concern and has rebuffed a request from several city mayors that would allow them to require masks in their cities.
“By making it so that cites couldn’t enforce masks, it sent the message to our community that maybe this thing was over,” Adler said.
Meanwhile, ten states are trekking steady in new cases compared to last week: Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Virginia and Wisconsin.
And 17 states are reporting a decline in new cases. They are Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Illinois, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont.
In New York City, officials say they’re on track for the second phase of reopening which will begin Monday. The phase two reopening means outdoor dining, barbershops and hair salons, playgrounds, offices and curbside retail stores can welcome customers.
In a news release, the governor said the state continues to be “on the right path toward defeating the virus,” noting the state saw less than 1% positivity rate for the virus in the tests conducted Saturday.