Young adults make up a growing percentage of coronavirus cases in the United States and Europe, and early indications are that they tend to fare better with the disease, suffering fewer deaths and hospitalizations. But the story doesn’t end there.
New research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that young adults who catch the virus may seed waves of infection that travel up the generations, infecting middle-aged and then older people. The new data suggests that outbreaks linked to bars, restaurants and college dorms aren’t just dangerous for the 20-somethings — but for their friends, families and neighbors as well.
After analyzing case data and hospital visits this summer, C.D.C. researchers concluded that spikes in cases among young people were often quickly followed by a jump in infections in older people. In Southern states like Alabama, Florida and Georgia, a spike in cases among those ages 20 to 39 led to a jump in cases nine days later among those ages 40 to 59, followed by a jump in cases 15 days later among those 60 and older.
College campuses are a particular threat. In a recent study, researchers found that spikes in cases occurred about two weeks after colleges reopened, with a higher increase for those adopting in-person models than those teaching online.