Over the last month, coronavirus cases among American 18- to 22-year-olds surged by 55 percent nationwide, with case rates more than doubling among college-age people in the Northeast and Midwest, new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data reveal.
As adolescents and young adults across the nation headed back to college last month, campuses emerged as hotspots for COVID-19 almost immediately.
What President Trump has dismissed as a disease that primarily affects elderly and sick people has become increasingly commonplace among the youngest adults.
People between 18 and 22 have now eclipsed all other age groups for having the highest weekly number of cases.
College-age people accounted for the smallest percentage of all COVID-19 cases in the US in late July.
Their share of weekly cases has sprung up from about 10 percent in late July to more than 20 percent of all US cases as of the end of August.
The timing is undeniable. Most colleges began welcoming students back to campus, where many would live together in the close quarters of dorms or apartments, in early August.
College-age Americans (18-22, black line) now account for the highest number of new weekly coronavirus cases of any age group in the US the CDC reports
Immediately, coronavirus cases among 18- to 22-year-olds shot up.
Between August 2 and September 5, 999,579 new cases of coronavirus were reported to the CDC.
Nearly 16 percent of those newly diagnosed people were between ages 18 and 22.
The August surge in cases escalated most steeply in those first frantic weeks after schools reopened.
Between August 2 and August 29, the number of college-aged people infected exploded by 62 percent.
Sororities and fraternities were reprimanded for hosting parties that were like petri dishes in which coronavirus could thrive and hop from host to host.
Hundreds of colleges scrambled to amend or cancel their planned reopenings. Quarantine dorms were set up and quickly filled with students suspected of having COVID-19.
Other schools sent sick students home to isolate with their parents and families, despite the insistence of health officials like Dr Anthony Fauci that that was the worst thing to do, in case the students gave the infection to their older, more vulnerable relatives.
Hundreds of US colleges had to walk back their plans for in-person learning weeks after welcoming students back as poor adherence to social distancing and mask-wearing triggered outbreaks of coronavirus (file)
As schools got serious about social distancing – or opted for remote learning – the number of new cases among young adults slightly leveled off, increasing by a more modest 171 cases per 100,000 people, compared to the previous high of 180 cases were 100,000 18- to 22-year-olds.
The Northeastern US – the region most densely packed with colleges, and home to Ivy League schools – as well as US was hit hardest. The number of new weekly cases there surged by 144 percent from August 2 to September 5.
In the Midwest, the seat of anti-mask sentiment in the US, college-aged people were getting coronavirus at a weekly rate 123 percent higher in September than they had been at the beginning of August.
Cases increased a relatively subtle 43 percent in the South, and actually declined by 1.7 percent in the West. It’s worth noting, however, that the number of overall tests being done in the West also decreased.
In all regions, the CDC was clear: It wasn’t just testing increases that drove case rates among 18- to 22-year-olds up. Cases increased by 2.1-fold, and testing among the age group only increased by 1.5-fold.
While among adults and children of other age groups, black and Hispanic Americans caught coronavirus at higher rates, the sharpest increase in cases among college-age Americans from August to September was a nearly 150 percent spike among white people.
Since early August, the white people between ages 18 and 22 have seen by far the greatest increase in new case numbers (left) and have made up a handy majority (right) of new cases. Because most college students are white, this suggests to the CDC that returning to campus has been a main driver of the increase
‘Because approximately 45 percent of persons aged 18–22 years attend colleges and universities and 55 percent of those attending identified as white persons, it is likely that some of this increase is linked to resumption of in-person attendance at some colleges and universities,’ the CDC researchers wrote.
‘To prevent cases on campuses and broader spread within communities, it is critically important for students, faculty, and staff members at colleges and universities to remain vigilant and take steps to reduce the risk for SARS-CoV-2 transmission in these settings.
‘Transmission by young adults is not limited to those who attend colleges and universities but can occur throughout communities where young adults live, work, or socialize and to other members of their households, some of whom might be at high risk for severe COVID-19-associated illness because of age or underlying medical conditions.’