In Waterloo’s worst COVID-19 month, Ontario Ministry of Health reports young adults are disproportionately responsible for the spread

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Young adults responsible for spread in Waterloo’s worst COVID-19 month

In Waterloo’s worst month for COVID-19 cases, this November, there have been 658 new cases in the region, already surpassing the previous month high of 633 cases in April.

With case numbers steadily on the rise since September, Waterloo is not alone in experiencing a surge of COVID-19 spread.

According to the Ontario Ministry of Health, more than one-third of active cases are among people in their 20s, even though this age group makes up only 14 percent of the province’s population.

The reason for the rise in young adult cases is unknown, with 54 percent of cases labelled “no epidemiological link”, meaning the coronavirus is being spread through run-of-the-mill interactions in the community.

Health professionals say there could be many reasons that young adults are being disproportionately infected, from a lack of caution to a necessity to work in potentially hazardous environments.

“You hear anecdotally, it’s because people in that age bracket are less scared and they’re not taking the precautions that other age groups are taking,”  Ashleigh Tuite, a Toronto Epidemiologist, said. “Another explanation is that a lot of people in that age demographic need to be out to work. They’re the people who are working in restaurants. They’re the people who are working in bars.” 

Though young people are less likely to become seriously ill from the virus, with the majority of carriers of the virus under 40, they can pass it to vulnerable groups such as the elderly, who bear a much higher risk ,if exposed.

The majority of cases are in concentrated urban areas, displaying the significance of reduced social distancing.

“The vast majority of transmission is with close contact with someone who’s infected, typically for a prolonged period of time in an indoor environment,”  Dr. Isaac Bogoch, a Toronto-based Infectious Disease Specialist, said.

Ontario health officials say stricter spread prevention measures will be implemented in the near future, including lowering the maximum size of social gatherings and harsher fines for people who break public health rules. 

“There’s going to be some severe, severe fines for those who choose not to follow the guidelines,”  Doug Ford, Ontario’s Premier, said. “They will be the highest in the country.”

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