People between the ages of 18 and 34 in Orange County are being urged to double down as numbers continue to prove the demographic is catching COVID-19 more than any other group.
"Those numbers have gone up dramatically faster in the last several weeks than they have in the months leading up to where we are today," said County CEO Frank Kim during a press briefing this week.
From June 1 to June 26, data from the Orange County Health Care Agency shows people between the ages of 25 and 34 have seen the largest average of new cases than any other group at 151 per day.
In that same time period, 18 to 24-year-olds had the largest percentage increase of positive cases than any other age group at 436%.
"Recently with things opening, protests, there's been a lot more contact between people, which of course we know can cause a more rapid spread of the virus," said Dr. Michael Katz, who practices pulmonary and critical care medicine at St. Jude Medical Center in Fullerton.
He thinks young people have reached a breaking point.
"We understand that people are tired from maintaining such a high level of anxiety for so long, the social distancing, not feeling free to get together and enjoy life normally," Katz said.
While most will be able to recover at home, he added the main concern is their contact with others.
"They're less likely to become critically ill or need hospitalization, but of course it's very important to monitor the infection in those age groups because they could easily spread the infection to older people and people with medical conditions that are more likely to become severely ill from the virus," Katz said.
This is why he urging people 18 to 34 to think about the big picture.
"Especially for this time, which is not gonna last forever, maybe the next four to six weeks especially while we're seeing this rapid rise again in the number of cases, there is still great value in young healthy people doubling down in order to protect people that have chronic medical conditions, people who are more at risk to become severely ill," he said.
"The real message that we have for our younger members of our Orange County Community is to be safe and practice good hygiene and if you're not feeling well, please, stay at home and limit your contact," said Kim.