The recent COVID-19-related death of a sophomore at Appalachian State University, followed by a spike in virus cases in Boone, has many people in that college community calling for stronger safety measures.

It should prompt others in the region, particularly young adults, to take COVID-19 more seriously.

Too often, young adults appear to assume they are immune from the consequences of COVID-19.

Recent reports emphasize the risks young adults face with COVID-19 and, in turn, the risks they pose for others.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, young adults are driving coronavirus infections in the U.S. and are likely increasing its spread among older, more vulnerable populations.

In Southern states over the summer, rising infections among young adults preceded increases in COVID-19 — by four to 15 days — among people over the age of 60.

A research paper published recently by the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) said that among 3,200 adults ages 18 to 34 with COVID-19 who were hospitalized, 21% required intensive care, 10% required mechanical ventilation and nearly 3% died.

Of those who survived, 3% had to be discharged to another health care facility to continue their recoveries.

The incident rate of COVID-19 in the U.S. currently is highest among those ages 20 to 29.

The CDC reported that from June to August, people in this age group accounted for more than 20% of all cases. Adults ages 30 to 39 made up the second-largest group of cases.

In Wilkes County, people ages 25-49 currently account for about 40% of cases and those ages 18-24 account for 10%.

The JAMA report also said risks of dying or needing mechanical ventilation were found to be more than double in young adult patients either morbidly obese or with hypertension. There is a prevalence of these conditions in Wilkes County.

Young adults should heed the oft-repeated advice of mask wearing, social distancing and hand hygiene, and follow other guidance for minimizing the spread of COVID-19.

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