Half of the new coronavirus cases in Washington State are among people under the age of 40, a major shift in the state’s age distribution that public health officials have attributed to younger people engaging in risky behavior. Seattle epidemiologist Judith Malmgren, who authored the report, said that younger people “are the most likely to be socially active, they are the most likely to work in essential professions and have more contact with the public.” Malmgren also said it was a “popular misconception that children, teenagers and young people are not at risk.”
By early May, 39 percent of confirmed infections occurred in people aged 20 to 39, while those under the age of 19 accounted for 11 percent. Washington State Health Officer Dr. Kathy Lofy said the report indicated that older residents had been more diligent about adhering to social distancing practices and staying at home. She also credited the age distribution shift to the state’s efforts to control outbreaks in long-term care facilities.