Younger populations driving second wave of coronavirus in Florida, officials say


TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Hours after the Florida Department of Health reported a new record single-day record for positive COVID-19 cases, the bars on South Howard Ave. in South Tampa were packed with not much, if any, social distancing.

“I’m not surprised, it’s what we were expecting,” a recent USF graduate named Heather said. “But I also thought there’d be an option for less crowded places.”

She told 8 On Your Side she still has concerns about catching coronavirus.

“I’m absolutely worried about it,” she said. “My dad was recently diagnosed with cancer. I don’t want to bring that back to him so we’re out here tonight but I’m not trying to be close to anyone.”

During Thursday’s Emergency Policy Group meeting with Hillsborough County leaders, they indicated one group of county residents is seeing a surge in cases.

People ages 25 to 34 are becoming more susceptible, leaders said.

University of South Florida Associate Professor of Epidemiology Dr. Jason Salemi shared with 8 On Your Side charts he made using the Department of Health pandemic data sorted by age groups.

“What the data shows is that although the elderly remain the group at highest risk of serious illness from COVID-19, they are not responsible for the second wave in early June,” Salemi told 8 On Your Side. “Instead, it is the working age population between 20 and 64 that seems to be driving the recent increases.”

One of his charts tracks the positive test results for the 20 to 34 age group.

“Now we’re seeing a pronounced peak in early June that is starting to exceed levels that happened in April,” Salemi said in a YouTube video explaining the charts.

More large crowds of young people are expected at several planned protests against police brutality in response to the death of George Floyd this weekend in Tampa Bay.

“Most of us are wearing masks, so we’re not too worried about it,” Alexia Aguire told 8 On Your Side Friday evening at protest and march organized by the Rainbow Coalition.

As more COVID-19 cases continue to be reported, Heather, 22, said she is urging people around her age to be cautious.

“Understand the facts, know the risk,” she said. “Don’t go out blind thinking it’s over cause its obviously not.”


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