New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says coronavirus infections among young adults increased significantly from August to September as colleges and universities reopened around the country.
The CDC study released Tuesday found that between Aug. 2 and Sept. 5, weekly COVID-19 cases among adults aged 18-22 increased 55 percent nationally.
The Northeast region experienced a 144 percent increase in coronavirus cases among young adults, while the Midwest recorded a 123.4 percent increase, according to the report.
The health agency emphasized that the jump in cases was not solely attributable to increased testing.
As about 45 percent of young adults in the age range are enrolled in colleges and universities, the CDC said it is likely the resumption of in-person classes is part of the reason for the rise in cases.
The CDC notes previous reports showed young adults are less likely than any other age group to adhere to health guidance meant to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
While young adults are at lower risk for severe disease and death if they contract the virus compared to older adults and those with preexisting conditions, they can certainly transmit the virus to those at higher risk and can also become seriously ill themselves.
“Young adults, including those enrolled in colleges and universities, should take precautions, including mask wearing, social distancing, and hand hygiene, and follow local, state, and federal guidance for minimizing the spread of COVID-19,” the CDC said in its report.
“Institutions of higher education should take action to promote healthy environments,” the agency said.
In a separate study published by the CDC on Tuesday, researchers looked at an unnamed North Carolina university that experienced a rapid increase in COVID-19 cases and clusters within two weeks of opening the campus to students, forcing the school to transition to online classes.
Between August 3 and 25, nearly 700 coronavirus cases were identified and most cases occurred in people aged 22 or younger.
“Student gatherings and congregate living settings, both on and off-campus, likely contributed to the rapid spread of COVID-19 within the university community,” researchers wrote in the report.
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