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As the numbers of positive COVID-19 cases soars across the South, federal officials today implored young people to be more careful about spreading the disease.
Members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, holding their first public briefing in two months, spoke of the risks of continuing to spread the virus by people who are the least at risk for serious complications and death to those who are.
Although Drs. Deborah Birx and Anthony Fauci said they weren’t blaming anyone for spreading the virus, they clearly singled out millennials, who have begun returning to bars and other social venues in states that have opened their economies. Fauci also noted that the greatest increase in cases is coming in people under 40.
“Anyone who gets infected or is at risk of getting infected, to a greater or lesser degree, is part of the dynamic process of the outbreak,” he said. “A risk for you is not just isolated to you. Because if you are infected, you are in danger of propagating the dynamic process of an epidemic.
“The chances are that if you get infected, that you’re going to infect someone else,” he added. “The overwhelming majority of people who we see getting infected now are young people.”
That may in part be due to the increase in young people being tested for the virus at the urging of government officials, particularly those who participated in widespread protests over the May 28 killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Birx said.
Younger people who are infected are more likely to be asymptomatic and at risk of spreading the disease unknowingly to people who are more vulnerable — those over 80 and those with comorbidities such as diabetes, officials said.
Nationwide, new daily COVID-19 cases had dropped from a high of 30,000 in April to 25,000 in May and to 20,000 in the first few days of June, according to Vice President Mike Pence, who chairs the task force. New cases this week shot up to 40,000 per day, with the newest hotspots in Texas, Arizona, Florida and California. On Thursday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott paused the reopening of that state’s economy and put a halt on elective medical procedures in the state’s four most populous counties to preserve hospital beds for a surge in COVID patients.
“It’s almost inarguable that more testing is generating more cases,” Pence said. “The volume of new cases coming in is a reflection of a great success in expanding testing across the country. We’re testing 500,000 people a day.”