Young adults unconcerned by coronavirus “may be killing other people,” doctor warns

Michigan
VIRUS OUTBREAK VIRAL QUESTIONS CLEAN MASKS

Illustration by Peter Hamlin.;

(CBS) Young people are out enjoying the warmer weather across the country, but according to health officials, they also might be spreading and contracting the coronavirus. As people pack into parks, beaches, restaurants, bars and even concerts, cases are rising in at least 37 states, with surges among young people linked to everything from fitness classes to summer fraternity parties. 

“I’m not too scared of getting sick,” said Chris Clarici in San Francisco. 

“I just personally don’t care,” said a young person in Boston. “I haven’t got sick yet.”

Experts have warned that attitude is dangerous. 

“They may be indirectly hurting people by infecting someone who then infects someone, who then infects someone who’s vulnerable,” Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said last week.  

In Arizona, nearly half of coronavirus cases are people 20 to 44 years old. Last week, President Donald Trump spoke at a rally in the state where the crowd of around 3,000 people was mostly young and maskless.

In Hays County, Texas, about 30 miles outside of Austin, young adults make up more than half of all cases. In Florida, a coronavirus hotspot, the highest number of cases are among people between the ages of 25 and 34 years old. 

“If I get it, then, you live with your consequences,” said Bojan Atanasovski, a 25-year-old West Palm Beach resident.

Atanasovski, who works as a salesman, said he wears a mask in places where it’s required but he doesn’t want coronavirus to stop him from living life.

“I need something to unwind,” he told “CBS This Morning” lead national correspondent David Begnaud. “Some people like reading. Some people like working out. … I like, you know, going and seeing other people as well. Now, if I had to go out and do that with a face mask, right, if they required it to wear a face mask, sure, I’ll do that. But if they don’t require it, I would choose not to.”

Dr. Charles Lockwood, the senior vice president of University of South Florida Health, said he has observed a change in coronavirus cases over the last few weeks. 

“The age of cases is what is most remarkable. That has been dropping steadily,” he said.

Lockwood has administered more than 300 coronavirus tests and is alarmed by the spike among young people.

“It really is consistent with what we’ve been observing, which is incredible noncompliance with wearing face masks, social distancing, particularly among young adults and teenagers,” he said.

Lockwood recognized that young people have “a different way of looking at life.”

“The problem is that while you may not die and you may not even know you’re sick, you may be killing other people,” he said.

Sophia Carrion, who lives with her parents in Los Angeles, said she’s strict about social distancing and wearing a mask. 

“If my parents were to get sick, … I would not be able to live with myself,” she said. 

The 23-year-old has a message to young people not taking the virus seriously.  

“It’s not just about you. I think that’s a big mindset people have, like, ‘Oh, if I get it, I’ll be fine, it’s just the flu.’ Maybe, but you don’t want to pass it to someone who could be more vulnerable or more susceptible,” she said.

Carrion said she thinks young people have a bad reputation and pointed out that there are also older people who don’t wear masks or social distance.

While young people are less likely to be hospitalized or die of COVID-19, last week, two 17-year-olds died from the virus in Florida.© 2020 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Michigan Headlines

More Michigan

StormTracker 6 Radar