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Young, healthy think COVID-19 ‘is not going to happen to me’

CITY HALL – Young people are where it’s at. And “it” is the COVID-19 coronavirus, according to recent figures from across the U.S. and also the St. Louis area.

Mayor Lyda Krewson laid out the numbers in her Facebook press conference on Monday afternoon: Of the area’s 2,840 total cases, a third are among people in their 20s and 30s.

There has been “a pretty substantial increase” in cases across country and here also, although the rise here hasn’t been as dramatic so far. In our region, 321 people are now in the hospital; that’s much lower than the high of 775 the area hit several months ago, but Krewson noted a recent and concerning rebound.

On Sunday, 36 people were admitted to area hospitals. The number of admissions has risen each day over the last three to four days.

“We are seeing an upswing,” she repeated, and young adults are a big part of it.

The mayor discussed bars as one type of venue heavily frequented by young people – and potentially hazardous.

“People of all ages go to bars,” she acknowledged, “but people in their 20s and 30s tend to go more often.”

With music and many people talking, people may tend to shout, thus projecting dangerous airborne droplets more vigorously. And young people who get infected may feel no symptoms, yet spread the virus to other, more vulnerable people.

What to do? “Try to be outside” or inside with good ventilation, Krewson warned. And, most important: Wear that face mask.

“You never know when you’re going to be closer than six feet to somebody,” she said.

Asked for advice for younger people, Krewson replie: “You guys don’t need advice. You know what to do. You’re smart.”

But she pleaded, “Please, recognize that it can happen to you.”

She recounted a story on the national news of a young man who attended at “COVID-19 party,” deriding warnings of theh coronavirus. He had thought the coronavirus was a hoax, he told his nurse shortly before he died.

Krewson said a common stance among young people and even older people was: “It’s not going to happen to me” and “I’m healthy.”

“Please, wear a mask,” she said again. “If you don’t take it seriously, other folks around you won’t take it seriously.” And she pointed out that “this whole mask-wearing thing” had been politicized; but that if you got sick, it didn’t matter what political party you followed.

If too many people get sick, the area may have to curtail its re-opening. The critical data are hospitalizations – how many people are entering hospital every day. The cutoff point has been set at a seven-day moving average of 35 or more hospitalizations, or 40 new patients a day for three out of four days. If that happens, the mayor said, “We’d need to consider pulling back.”

She said that she didn’t see a complete shutdown happening but that the city might have to cut back on large venues again, among other measures.

“We really don’t want to have to pull back from re-opening,” she said.

“We have to rely on every one of you to do the right thing.”

Staff is home to The NorthSider and The SouthSider weekly community newspapers. The SouthSider publishes 25,000 copies every Tuesday. The NorthSider publishes 25,000 copies every Thursday. They are distributed at over 600 locations across St. Louis.

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