Epidemiologist: Knock-on effects of increase in COVID-19 among young adults

Increase of cases among younger people could be because they work in frontline occupations, including retail stores

In June, health officials began to notice a rise in COVID-19 cases among those under 65 years of age. Montclair State University professor and epidemiologist Stephanie Silvera, speaking with Anchor Michael Hill about the high positivity rates in 18-49 year olds, explained that part of the spread could be occupational.

“These younger adults make up a larger share of our frontline occupations, including retail stores, child care, restaurants,” she said. “And some of it [is] just behaviors. We know young people are less likely to comply with some of the mitigation strategies, such as don’t attend large gatherings.”

Silvera said that as well as educating people more on prevention strategies, it’s also important to remind young people that they’re not invincible and can become severely ill from COVID-19. And she said it could be time to look at the policy implications of keeping certain job sectors open if they are predominately staffed by those in a younger age group with increasing infections.

Stressing the importance of  staying home and avoiding travel this holiday, Silvera said she expects COVID-19 infection numbers to rise in the two to three weeks following Thanksgiving, with the chance that test positivity will also go up due to capacity limitations.

“What people are missing is that if you gather, you’re less likely to have everyone together to gather next year,” she said.