The major thrust of new coronavirus cases in the United States is in the South and West, where officials say more young people are ignoring social distancing measures and testing positive.
Young people are more likely to have milder outcomes from coronavirus, but they can still infect others who are more at risk.
“With younger age of recent infections in at least some places such as Florida, expect a lower death rate in this wave … until the 20-40 year olds who are infected today go on to infect others,” Dr. Tom Frieden, former director of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on Twitter.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, told Axios that the recent high number of cases in young people is “not surprising.” Like Frieden, he warned of what’s to come.
“They get infected first, then they come home, and then they infect the older people. The older people get the complications, and then they go to the hospitals,” Fauci said. “The death rate always lags several weeks behind the infection rate.”
The focus on young coronavirus-positive patients comes as nearly half of states are reporting a rise in new positive cases and some continue to break records in their daily reported cases. Florida on Monday surpassed 100,000 total coronavirus cases, according to data released by the Florida Department of Health.
In California, more than 35% of confirmed cases have been recorded in just the past two weeks, Gov. Gavin Newsom said in a news conference Monday.
The increases highlight America’s systemic failure to control the pandemic, a sharp contrast to its trajectory in Europe and Asia. There, coronavirus cases sharply increased in early 2020, were met with fierce efforts to stop its spread and have since rapidly declined.
In the US, the first wave of coronavirus isn’t over. In fact, cases took just a small dip and are now increasing months after the pandemic hit American shores.
“I don’t think we have the luxury of talking about a second wave right now because we have not gotten out of the first wave,” CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta said. “And it’s not clear that we will get out of the first wave. Instead of actually having a true ebb and flow, it may just be micro and macro peaks for the foreseeable future.”
The pandemic shows no signs of weakening in the US, said Michael Osterholm, head of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
“I think this is more like a forest fire. I don’t think that this is going to slow down,” Osterholm told NBC’s Chuck Todd during an appearance on “Meet the Press” on Sunday.
“I think that wherever there’s wood to burn, this fire’s going to burn – and right now we have a lot of susceptible people,” Osterholm said. “Right now, I don’t see this slowing down through the summer or into the fall. I don’t think we’re going to see one, two and three waves. I think we’re going to just see one very, very difficult forest fire of cases.”
Masks and social distancing
Across the US, experts are highlighting the need for social distancing and face coverings. But part