ATLANTA — We know COVID-19 is a big concern for the elderly as they continue to be the most at-risk group to die from the virus. However, there is a new age group raising concerns.
Of the 2,648 people who have died with COVID-19 in Georgia, 86-percent of them were 60 years of age or older. For the past few weeks, while still fairly close, the highest number of COVID-19 cases came from people in their 50’s.
But, on June 16, last Tuesday, the day the Georgia Department of Public Health changed the way it presented this data, a new group quietly took the lead. Now, those aged 18 through 29 have the most confirmed COVID-19 cases.
In the graph below from DPH's website, under the age group 18 through 29, you can see the blue bar, which indicates the number of confirmed cases, exceeds other age groups.
Epidemiologist Jodi Guest said the protests are not likely to blame. She’s had students tracking mask use and passing them out at events to help prevent spread. She said people have been taking precautions.
"So both you’re outside and we’re seeing upwards of 90 percent at almost every protest we’ve attended, to provide public health supports, we’ve seen people wearing masks," she said. "So they are coming protected."
However, there is concern that, outside of those protests, the younger crowd may not take the virus as seriously.
To date, 12,278 people in that age group have tested positive, 493 have been hospitalized, and 11 have died.
Mathematically, the risk of someone in that age group getting seriously ill is really low. Dr. Carlos del Rio said that a false sense of security puts older people around them at risk.
"You hear things like, 'I can’t breathe when I wear a mask, I’d rather get infected' and that’s the problem," he said.
"In the hospital, I saw someone who was 21 years old, critically ill in the ICU," he said. "So just because you’re young doesn’t mean you’re going to be fine."
"Second, they can bring the disease to other people in their family," he said.
Others might not be able to fight off the virus as easily.