COVID-19 cases rising sharply in young adults across the country, Hoosiers included

Crowds filled the beaches May 24, 2020, at Indiana Dunes state and national parks. (Photo From Video Provided/WLS via CNN)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — COVID-19 infections among young people are on the rise in states across the nation, Indiana included.

“The increase in numbers is real,” Robin Ledyard, MD and Chief Medical Officer for Community Health Network, told News 8. “In the past, positive cases for those under 30 made up around 15% of coronavirus infections. That number has increased to 21% in just a couple of weeks. Younger populations are now accounting for a greater percentage of COVID-19 in the state.”

So, why is this happening?

Well, it’s not possible to say for certain, but Ledyard does have some ideas. Here, she weighs in on just a few factors that might be contributing to the sudden spike in COVID-19 cases in the younger generation.  

Young people feel they are impervious to COVID-19.

With the lift in restrictions, people are out and about more. But while older folks are shielded by masks, it’s less common to see adults in their 20s and 30s wear these same face coverings in public, says Ledyard. 

“I still believe young people feel — despite everything that’s happened — that even if they do get infected with the coronavirus, they’re not going to get as sick as the older generations. And that’s just not true,” she said.

Ledyard’s seen people in their 20s and 30s suffer tremendously from the disease. 

It’s not about age. It’s about health status.

While older populations are more vulnerable to infection, COVID-19 spares no one. A person might be considered young in the chronological sense, but biologically they might be much older. Comorbidities, according to Ledyard, are indiscriminate of age. 

“Some young people have comorbidities such as diabetes, obesity or high blood pressure. And, unfortunately, we’ve seen young people infected with the coronavirus who also had these comorbidities end up in the intensive care unit, put on ventilators and even pass away from the disease,” she said.

Throwing (pre) caution to the wind.

People have been locked inside for months and are excited to get out again. But one of the COVID-19 outbreak hotspots are bars — a place young people are flocking to since they’ve reopened. 

“Part of public health is to educate and provide resources, but people have to self-govern themselves,” Ledyard warns. “If they choose to go out to a bar, they should go with a small group of people they know and socially distance from parties they don’t. And still — even though it may be hard — wear a mask to protect themselves and others from infection.”

More testing is available.

Another part of the reason the state might be seeing an increase in infections in this cohort is simply because more testing is available. 

“It’s more accessible now. So, if somebody does start to get a cough or feel more achy or feel more tired…they can get tested whereas previously we were only testing people in the hospital. But we have more tests available now…and that’s a good thing.”