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Rise in infections among New Yorkers in their 20s draws concern of state, city officials

Protesters and activists walk across the Brooklyn Bridge on June 6, 2020, in New York.

(The Center Square) – Even as the number of COVID-19 cases continue to rise nationally, New York City’s numbers remain low. However, there is some cause for concern as the number of cases in twentysomethings has risen.

Gothamist reported Tuesday that the number of cases in that age group has just about doubled over the past month. That’s happened as secret mask-free parties and social events have sprung up, with organizers using chat applications and text messaging to promote the clandestine events without drawing the attention of local authorities.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo tweeted a link to the piece with a terse four-word comment.

“Knock. It. Off. Now,” the governor posted Wednesday morning.

In addition to infected travelers from hot spot states arriving in the region, Cuomo has said a lack of compliance with social distancing and mask requirements remains a big threat to the state’s recovery efforts. The governor has also been critical of local authorities, especially in New York City, and their inability to enforce the state’s requirements.

On Wednesday, Dr. Jay Varma, a senior adviser to Mayor Bill de Blasio, told reporters that the coronavirus and the efforts to prevent its spreading would present a major challenge for younger adults, even though the disease’s symptoms generally are worse in older people and those with other health conditions.

For months, younger adults stayed in their homes along with other New Yorkers, but as the emergency restrictions eased – New York City is currently in the third stage of recovery, although indoor dining is still banned – they wanted to get out and socialize.

“So we see that situation, I think everywhere in the world, where there is a certain amount of what we call epidemic fatigue, where you’re being expected to change your behavior in every aspect of your life,” Varma said. “It’s one of those challenges that we’re just going to continuously have to face in terms of messaging and outreach and being very responsive to the needs of people in all age groups.”

Varma has said the data health officials see indicated new cases emerging in areas of Manhattan and Brooklyn within the 20-29 demographic, which doesn’t align with the lower-income neighborhoods that have been hit the hardest with the virus.

De Blasio said earlier this week the city has doubled up efforts to reach younger adults, even using social media influencers to spread awareness of the need to still maintain six feet of spacing between others and wearing a mask in public.

On Wednesday, he said city officials could not yet determine if the increases were due directly to parties or protests, but he noted what’s happening in New York is similar to what’s happened elsewhere as cities and states across the country reopened.

“I do think it’s part of the reality of what young people are responding to after a long period of time where they have very, very limited options,” the mayor said.

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