Area doctors see 84-percent increase in COVID-19 cases in 10 to 19-year-old age group

NOW: Area doctors see 84-percent increase in COVID-19 cases in 10 to 19-year-old age group

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Both the state and Milwaukee County reported significant increases in recent COVID-19 cases among young people. Health officials warn younger people are less likely to develop an infection, but can easily spread it.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says a substantial number of recent positive cases have reported attending gatherings including parties, bars and barbecues.

“In all confirmed cases within the past month here in Wisconsin, one third of them have been people in their 20’s,” said Andrea Palm, Secretary-Designee, Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services.

For Milwaukee County, the 18 to 39-year-old population continues to see the largest growth in the number of cases. Doctors say they’ve also seen an 84-percent increase in the 10 to 19-year-old age group.

“The rate of cases within those in the 18-39 has increased, currently that rate is about 25 per thousand,” said Darren Rausch, Health Director of the Greenfield Health Department.

“Are a lot of those kids going to get really sick with this? Probably not, but are a lot of those kids going to interact with older people, people with worse immune systems, people with other illnesses? Absolutely, and that’s going to lead to increased spread, increased hospitalizations and unfortunately increased deaths,” said Dr. Ben Weston, Director of Medical Services for the Milwaukee County Office of Emergency Management.

Rausch says the issue isn’t unique to Milwaukee County. He and other public health officials have studied case increases that stem from teen parties.

“There’s been students who attended a graduation party at another community and 18 to 20 students who attended that party became sick and became confirmed cases of COVID-19,” added Rausch.

Doctors say the key to slowing the spread is proper mask use, physical distancing and to sanitize often, but promoting widespread use of these tactics prove challenging, especially before students could return to school.

“How do we get widespread adoption on these things? I think that’s something that campuses and state governments and the public at large need to come together and promote,” said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Chief Medical Officer of the Bureau of Communicable Diseases.

“Young people don’t live in isolation, they interact with people who are older, they interact with people who are sicker, and a lot of people are sick and you don’t know it,” said Dr. Weston.

Health experts advise the younger population to remember the decisions they make today about going to parties, bars and social gatherings are directly impacting the disease rates in our area.

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