News & Opinion » News

Gathering and traveling behind young people’s higher COVID-19 numbers

by

In Monroe County, people in their 20’s and 30’s are testing positive for COVID-19 in higher numbers than any other age group.

The trend is not new, at least for the twentysomethings, but the county’s top public health official offered a new explanation — a defiance of physical distancing guidelines.

“There are more younger people gathering and more younger people travelling,” Dr. Michael Mendoza, Monroe County’s public health commissioner, said during a news briefing Thursday.
Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza. - FILE PHOTO
  • FILE PHOTO
  • Monroe County Public Health Commissioner Dr. Michael Mendoza.

Mendoza held the briefing to discuss COVID-19 testing in Monroe County and during it he urged anyone who gets a negative result to continue taking precautions such as wearing a mask and practicing physical distancing.

Between July 4 and 22, people in their 20’s accounted for 188 of the 572 positive COVID-19 tests in Monroe County; that’s nearly one third of all positive tests for the time period. People in the 30’s accounted for 91 positive tests, or 16 percent of the total.

When CITY first noticed a disparity in caseloads among twentysomethings in April and May, the coronavirus lockdown was still going strong. At the time, Mendoza said the trend appeared to be due to the prevalence of young people in frontline health care jobs — young women in particular — as well as increased testing of healthcare workers.

But some things have changed since then. Testing is more available and more people are taking advantage of that. Also, the lockdown has eased. Gathering places such as bars and restaurants are open for indoor and outdoor business again, and more people are getting together in public and in private.



Governor Andrew Cuomo at his daily news briefing on Sunday, April 12. - COURTESY OFFICE OF GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO
  • COURTESY OFFICE OF GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO
  • Governor Andrew Cuomo at his daily news briefing on Sunday, April 12.
Statewide, young people are testing positive for COVID-19 in higher numbers than other age groups. During a news conference this afternoon, Governor Andrew Cuomo noted that the weekly COVID-19 rate among 21 to 30 year olds has increased to 13.2 percent from 9.9 percent. For all other age groups the rate stayed flat or decreased.

“It's not hard to understand what is going on,” Cuomo said. "It's hard to deal with it but it's not hard to understand what's going on. You get groups of young people, it's warm, they've been locked up for a long time, we like to socialize - I get it. You don't socially distance, you don't wear masks, the virus spreads and it is happening.”

Cuomo announced the launch of an ad campaign targeting young people to stress that they can get very sick from the coronavirus and that they could inadvertently infect vulnerable loved ones, who may die as a result.

“To young people, this is not the time to fight for your right to party,” Cuomo said. “I respect your right to party. I fully respect it. I would enshrine it into state law if you want to know. You have the right to party but let's be smart about it, right?”

Jeremy Moule is CITY’s news editor. He can be reached at jmoule@rochester-citynews.com.

Tags