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Erie County data shows more young people diagnosed with COVID-19 in "alarming trend"

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Posted at 12:41 AM, Jul 10, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-10 03:55:27-04

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — It’s an “alarming trend” seen in cities across the country: more and more young people diagnosed with COVID-19.

In Erie County, officials warned of the issue at a press conference Wednesday afternoon. Data showed 43% of the 263 Erie County residents who tested positive for the virus last week were between the ages of 20 and 39-years-old.

“Please be careful. Please wear a mask when you go out. Please stay socially distant. Please wash your hands,” Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said.

County officials believe parties and traveling are both to blame for the increase. Dr. Burstein said those are the two most common answers contact tracers receive when following cases in younger residents.

“If there is a weak link in the chain, such as 20-year-olds and 30-year-olds not protecting themselves...that eventually is gonna put everyone at risk from a ripple effect,” Dr. Thomas Russo, Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo, said.

The infectious diseases expert said besides parties and traveling, he believed bars are also a breeding ground for the virus. If wanting to get together, Dr. Russo suggested it be out outside, wear a mask at all times and if eating/drinking are involved, maximize social distancing.

“I think the secret for everything we do, including younger individuals who want to get together and socialize, is that we do it in a safe and responsible fashion,” Dr. Russo said.