From early August into September, weekly coronavirus cases among those aged 18 to 22 jumped by 55% nationwide, with the Northeast seeing the largest increase, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The health agency said it was likely that the increase was tied to resumption of “in-person attendance” at some colleges and universities.
When the CDC looked at race and ethnicity data, it found that weekly virus incidence among White young adults jumped by 150% in the same time frame (48 cases per 100,000 to 120 per 100,000). “At the same time, incidence among persons of other racial and ethnic minority groups remained stable or declined.”
The CDC noted that “approximately 45% of persons aged 18–22 years attend colleges and universities and 55% of those attending identified as White persons.”
About 71% of people aged 18 to 22 live with a parent, around 50% attend college and one-third of college students live with a parent. The health agency said younger adults tend to flout preventative measures more so than other age groups, which puts their close contacts at higher risk.
The CDC received case report data for nearly 1 million people, 16% of which were aged 18 to 22. Virus incidence soared by 144% in the Northeast, which saw a 171% increase in weekly testing volume.
The agency noted that, “notably” in the Northeast, weekly incidence for all other age groups has been under 53 cases per 100,000 since July 4.
Meanwhile, incidence grew over 123% in the Midwest, which saw a 65% jump in weekly testing volume, per the report.
“Incidence in this age group changed 2.1-fold during this time, compared with a 1.5-fold change in testing (possibly related to new screening practices as colleges and universities reopened),” per the report. “Although increased incidence was likely driven in part by an increase in COVID-19 diagnostic testing, this is unlikely to be the sole reason for the observed increases in incidence.”
“Mitigation and preventive measures targeted to young adults can likely reduce SARS-CoV-2 transmission among their contacts and communities,” the CDC wrote.