The SARS CoV2 coronavirus

Data Show Alarming Rise in COVID-19 Infections Among Young Adults

What it means for cancer patients and their loved ones

Across the nation, the number of young people infected with COVID-19 is on the rise.

Data released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that since late May, the number of cases of COVID-19 among patients under age 45 has risen nearly twice as fast as for patients 65 and over.

That trend is reflected here in the greater Buffalo, N.Y., area. The Erie County Department of Health reports that during the week of July 6, young adults between 20 and 39 years old accounted for 54% of new cases. Hospitalizations for COVID-19 are rising in the county, too.

What this means for cancer patients and their loved ones

The rise has serious implications for cancer patients and their families, making it more important than ever to follow CDC guidelines for keeping the virus at bay. Some health problems are common among people who have cancer — for example, cardiovascular disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and the effects of aging — and recent studies show those conditions increase the risk of dying from COVID-19. In fact, cancer patients who develop symptoms of the virus have a 28% risk of death. People who have had bone marrow transplants also may be at higher risk.

If you or a loved one has cancer, make sure that everyone who lives in your home or is in contact with you is aware of the danger and takes necessary precautions. That goes for young people, too, who may underestimate their potential role as carriers of the infection.

Summer is here, but so is COVID-19

School’s out, summer’s here, and contact tracing shows that many young people who tested positive became infected after traveling or attending overcrowded parties without social distancing. Young adults are less likely than older people to show symptoms if they’re infected, and when they gather in large groups, it’s “a dangerous combination,” according to Gale Burstein, MD, MPH, Erie County Commissioner of Health. In crowded situations, just one infected person can spread the virus to many others, who then carry it home with them.

So even though many shops, restaurants and bars in New York State have reopened, keep in mind the first wave of the pandemic is not over. Reduce the danger by following these guidelines

  • Avoid dining indoors at restaurants.
  • Do not attend events where you cannot keep a distance of six feet or more between you and others.
  • If you’re a cancer patient, avoid the company of people who resist wearing masks around you.
  • Smoking increases the risk of severe disease if you develop COVID-19. If you smoke, quitting is more urgent than ever.
  • Wear a mask that fully covers your nose and mouth when you are around people you don’t live with. That means all the time, even if you don’t feel ill. Keep your mask clean.
  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water — for at least 20 seconds — especially before eating or cooking, after using the bathroom or changing a diaper, after coughing or sneezing, after taking care of someone who is ill and after you’ve been out in public.
  • When you don’t have access to soap and water, use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Continue rubbing it on your hands until they are dry.
  • Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth if you haven’t washed your hands.
  • Keep frequently touched surfaces clean and disinfected. Focus on the things you touch most — doorknobs, light switches, countertops and faucet handles, your phone, your keyboard, and that filthy TV remote.