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Take care: Young adults not immune to COVID-19

As news headlines first reported the rise of the novel coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, many young adults assumed their age and good health would prevent them from catching it, or at least experiencing major illness.

“I’m in college, and school was still going on. It didn’t really sink in,” Laura Mae, 27, told Kaiser Health News. “And once it did start spreading, I thought, if I did get it, I’m young and healthy, I’ll be fine. I don’t need to worry.”

Unfortunately, there is a need to worry.

Recent data shows young adults, between 18 and 40, account for some of the largest shares among groups testing positive in the nation’s largest cities. In New York City, 39 percent of cases were ages 18 to 44. In Los Angeles County, that age range accounted for 33 percent. Nearly half the positive tests in Travis County, Texas, were between 20 and 39.

Epidemiologists say these numbers show that people in this demographic are just as susceptible to COVID-19 as other age groups.

“Young people are equally at risk of becoming infected and spreading [the coronavirus] to others who then become infected,” said Denis Nash to KHN, a professor of epidemiology at The City University of New York School of Public Health.

“This just means everybody in every age group has the same rate of infection,” Adolfo García-Sastre, director of Mount Sinai’s Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute in New York, added in the article.

It is true that young adults are far more likely to survive contracting COVID-19. Nash calculated that the fatality rate in New York City was just 1.8 percent for patients within the 18-44 age group.

However, that doesn’t mean young adults are guaranteed to go unscathed.

As KHN reports, Laura Mae came down with the illness a couple of days after a night out. Her symptoms started with a sore throat, and then she developed a fever and chills. She felt short of breath and was tired constantly. When a nurse on a local coronavirus hotline told her she was presumptive positive, Mae was in “complete shock.”

Mae recovered from her illness but told KHN that the experience changed her perspective. Everybody needs to stay safe.

Taking extra precautions, including social distancing, reduces risks for all ages. Share your COVID-19 stories that you or someone you know has experienced with Voices for Affordable Health.