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Young Adults are Driving Up COVID-19 Rates

  • CDC/MMWR
Sep 23, 2020 5:08 pm

CDC reports that since June 2020 individuals infected with COVID-19 have largely been young adults in the 20-29 year age bracket.

Early in the pandemic, COVID-19 incidence was highest among older adults. However, from June–August 2020, COVID-19 incidence was highest in persons aged 20–29 years, who accounted for >20% of all confirmed cases. Moreover, younger adults appeared to be driving community transmission of COVID-19. Across the southern United States in June 2020, increases in percentage of positive SARS-CoV-2 test results among adults aged 20–39 years preceded increases among those aged ≥60 years by 4–15 days.

The CDC examined the changing age distribution of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States during May–August by assessing three indicators:

  1. COVID-19–like illness-related emergency department (ED) visits,
  2. Positive reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results for SARS-CoV-2, and
  3. Confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Nationwide, the median age of COVID-19 cases declined from 46 years in May to 37 years in July and 38 in August. Similar patterns were seen for COVID-19–like illness-related ED visits and positive SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR test results in all U.S. Census regions.

During June–August, COVID-19 incidence among persons aged 20–29 years was 20% of all confirmed cases, especially where there were regional outbreaks of COVID-19 in June (southern USA).

The finding that an increase in the percentage of positive SARS-CoV-2 test results among adults aged 20–39 years preceded increases among adults aged ≥60 years by an average of 8.7 days (range = 4–15 days) suggests younger adults likely contributed to community transmission of COVID-19.

National incidence of confirmed COVID-19 increased from 185 cases per 100,000 persons in May to 316 in July, then declined to 275 in August (Table). During May–July, incidence increased among persons in all age groups <80 years, with the largest increases in persons aged <30 years. As a result, the median age of confirmed COVID-19 cases decreased from 46 years in May to 37 years in July and 38 years in August. During June–August, incidence was highest among persons aged 20–29 years, who accounted for the largest proportion of total cases (>20%). Similar age shifts were observed nationwide.

Despite the beliefs that younger persons are less affected and not severely affected, these numbers suggest that strict adherence to community mitigation strategies and personal preventive behaviors by younger adults is needed to help reduce infection and subsequent transmission to persons at higher risk for severe illness.

Disclosures
The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose related to this subject

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