COVID-19 cases among young adults in U.S. rise 55% in August: CDC

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(Reuters) - Coronavirus cases among young adults rose steadily across the United States in recent weeks as universities reopened, suggesting the need for this group to take more measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19, a U.S. health agency said.

Universities that want to reopen for in-person learning need to implement mitigation steps such as mask wearing and social distancing to curb the spread of the virus among young adults, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in the report here.

Between Aug. 2 and Sept. 5, weekly cases of COVID-19 among people aged 18 to 22 rose 55.1%. The Northeast region recorded a 144% increase in COVID-19 cases, while Midwest cases rose 123.4%, the report said.

The uptick in cases was not solely attributable to increased testing and could be linked to some universities resuming in-person attendance, the CDC researchers said. They also said transmission could also be among young adults not attending college.

Previous reports identify young adults as being less likely to adhere to prevention measures, the report said.

In a separate study published in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) on Tuesday, researchers reported a rapid rise of COVID-19 cases two weeks after a North Carolina university opened its campus to students.

The study found that between Aug. 3 and Aug. 25, the university reported 670 laboratory-confirmed cases of COVID-19, with preliminary investigations finding that student gatherings and congregate living settings likely contributed to the spread.

On Aug. 19, classes moved online and the school began to reduce density of on-campus housing. No COVID-19 patient from the university was hospitalized or had died, the researchers said.

The authors of both studies suggest the need for enhanced measures to reduce transmission among young adults and at institutes of higher education.

Reporting by Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Caroline Humer and Amy Caren Daniel