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COVID-19 outbreaks in South 'significant,' may be less deadly, CDC says

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention head Dr. Robert Redfield noted on a conference call Thursday that while COVID-19 infection numbers are rising, the age of new patients could make it less deadly. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention head Dr. Robert Redfield noted on a conference call Thursday that while COVID-19 infection numbers are rising, the age of new patients could make it less deadly. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo

June 25 (UPI) -- Ongoing outbreaks of COVID-19 in Arizona, California, Florida and Texas are "significant," but the younger average age of confirmed cases in these states might mean the "consequences" will be less severe, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials said Thursday.

Although California reported more than 7,000 new cases Wednesday, while Florida and Texas each added more than 5,000 and Arizona added 3,000, data from each of those states suggests that more than half of the new infections are in younger adults aged 20 to 49 years.

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Conversely, in places like New York and New Jersey, some 40 percent of deaths from the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, have occurred in older adults, many of whom lived in nursing homes and had underlying health conditions, like diabetes and heart disease, that placed them at higher risk for complications, agency officials said.

"We have clearly seen increases in cases in the southern states," CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said during a conference call with reporters Thursday. However, "fewer of these infections are requiring hospitalization" or resulting in death, he said, without citing figures.

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Still, he acknowledged that long-term data on the health outcomes of those newly infected with the coronavirus is needed before firm conclusions on the risk to younger adults can be firmly drawn.

For example, up to 40 percent of U.S. adults aged 20 to 39 are obese, which may place them at increased risk for complications for COVID-19, he said.

"Our nation isn't as healthy as some other nations, which means that some individuals are still susceptible" to serious illness from the new coronavirus, Redfield said.

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Even as many of the affected states reopen their economies, "our best weapon" against the virus is social distancing, wearing face coverings in public and washing hands frequently, he added.

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