A new CDC report found that coronavirus cases spiked among individuals aged 18 to 22 between August 2 and September 5, coinciding with when universities across the country started to reopen. The biggest increases took place in the Northeast (144 percent) and the Midwest (123 percent).
The report said the surge could not be solely attributed to increased testing, suggesting that other social, economic, and political factors were also at play.
“Because approximately 45% of persons aged 18–22 years attend colleges and universities … it is likely that some of this increase is linked to resumption of in-person attendance at some colleges and universities,” the report explained.
Increased Risk of Transmission
While young adults are at lower risk for severe disease and death as a result of the virus, they can still experience the infection and transmit it to those at higher risk for severe illness. Additionally, the report said that other avenues for young adults to gather can contribute to the coronavirus’ spread.
“Transmission by young adults is not limited to those who attend colleges and universities but can occur throughout communities where young adults live, work, or socialize and to other members of their households,” the report said.
This rise in positive cases occurred despite attempts by colleges and universities to mitigate the spread. Many have chosen to move their classes online, which has sparked controversy over tuition fees and subsequent access to quality education.
Student Life Amid COVID-19
Universities now face the challenging task of finding a balance between enforcing social distancing measures while giving young adults room to interact.
Institutions that have chosen to open their physical facilities are advised to implement preventive measures, such as spreading social media toolkits that discuss the importance of mask wearing, social distancing, and hand hygiene, to supplement further their efforts in providing a safe space for learning.