Amid a record-high week in the U.S. for new COVID-19 cases, an overwhelming majority of those in San Luis Obispo County are in residents under age 50, according to public health data.
Of 66 new cases reported this week, 80 percent were in patients 50 or younger, despite that age group making up just 61 percent of the population. Prior to June 1, patients under 50 accounted for just over half of the local cases.
“We have seen an increase over the last couple of weeks in our county in people in their 20s and 30s,” SLO County Public Health Department
IMAGE COURTESY OF THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL
YOUNG AND INFECTED Nearly three in four SLO County COVID-19 cases since June 1 are in people younger than 50.
spokesperson Michelle Shoresman told New Times
That’s part of a state and nationwide trend. As states and counties reopen sectors of their economies, young people are socializing more in groups, or spending more time in workplaces and gyms, contracting and spreading the virus, experts say. Locally, public health officials traced some recent cases to a graduation party and another gathering.
Shoresman said the influx is a worrying sign because younger patients could spread the virus to more at-risk populations.
“More infected people means a higher likelihood that people who are higher risk for serious outcomes could be exposed and become ill themselves,” she said.
The rising case numbers coincide with more hospitalizations. On June 26, SLO County hit a record for COVID-19 related hospitalizations at 12 patients. Five were in intensive care units.
California as a whole is seeing a 36 percent surge in hospitalizations over the past two weeks, raising alarm bells among state health leaders. Neighboring counties Santa Barbara, Kings, and Kern are on a state watch list for their worsening case and hospitalization metrics.
At a SLO County press briefing on June 24, county Public Health Officer Penny Borenstein emphasized that COVID-19 “is not going away.” She said the goal now is to limit the spread and “protect our vulnerable populations.”
“It is really is all over our county,” Borenstein said, while urging residents to wear masks when in public and continue to avoid social gatherings, especially indoors. ∆