NEW JERSEY — Although New Jersey continues to fight the spread of COVID-19, officials have raised concern over the growing number of teens and young adults in the state contracting the virus.
“We are continuing to see numbers climb among young people. Many of these cases and clusters are a result of parties and social gatherings,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli.
"Parties are at or near the top of the list" of reasons in seeing spikes in cases, Gov. Phil Murphy said.
Although coronavirus symptoms are milder among the younger population compared to adults, health officials have seen more “severe cases and even deaths in this population,” Perisichilli said.
The health commissioner referenced a report conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shows COVID-19 deaths in kids mirrors the same pattern seen in adults.
The report examined 121 deaths of those younger than 21, as of the end of July. Like older adults, many of them had one or more medical condition — like lung problems, including asthma, obesity, heart problems or developmental conditions.
In New Jersey, health officials have seen the percent positivity increase “substantially” among the youth.
The percent positivity for children between 14 and 18 years old has risen from 3% in mid-August to 7%. The percent positivity for adults between 19 and 24 has increased from 2.7% in mid-August to 7.1%, Persichilli said.
There have been at least eight deaths of people under the age of 21, according to Persichilli.
About 71% of those deaths are among people ages 18 to 20 who had underlying health conditions, she noted.
With schools and colleges reopening, Persichilli urged everyone to take the virus seriously.
“Now is not the time for indoor parties or large gatherings. These activities allow the virus to spread,” Persichilli said, reminding everyone to wear masks, social distance and wash your hands frequently.
Contributed reporting by Associated Press.