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Local health experts weigh in after Pence says young people contracting COVID-19 is ‘encouraging’

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OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — Many states across the country are reporting a rise in new positive COVID-19 cases — including right here in California.

The focus is now on young people contracting the virus.

Some officials say it’s because they have failed to follow social distancing measures.

As beaches, bars, gyms and restaurants reopen across the country — several states set single day case records this week — including Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Oklahoma and California.

Many states are seeing a rise in young people testing positive for coronavirus.

But Vice President Mike Pence is calling it “encouraging” that roughly half of the new cases are coming from people under the age of 35.

Local health experts weighed in on why he might think that’s a good thing.

“I think some people may think it’s encouraging that young people have positive COVID tests because they are less likely to be hospitalized and less likely to die because of it,” Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, an infectious disease specialist at UCSF said.

But young people can easily spread coronavirus to those who are older, and to those who may end up getting very sick and dying of the virus.

“There’s no question that young people are very important in the spread of coronavirus,” Dr. Dean Winslow, an infectious disease physician at Stanford said. “And I think this has just been highlighted in the last week or two in states particularly that opened up, in retrospect, way too fast that young people have often been implicated in spreading the virus.”

Local health experts say it’s important to continue wearing a mask when in public, and if you must be around other people, it’s best to do so outside.

While young people may have milder symptoms — they can still infect those more at risk.

And while we see case numbers rising, it’s likely the death rate will also rise in the coming weeks.

“This is not a good situation that we are in right now with this dramatic uptick and number of cases as well as hospitalizations,” Dr. Winslow said.

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