Record editorial: Young people, driving state’s COVID-19 surge, must take pandemic seriously |

Record editorial: Young people, driving state’s COVID-19 surge, must take pandemic seriously

Get it together, young people.

In recent days, the state has experienced its largest coronavirus surge since July, with an all-time high of 1,117 new cases Friday.

What’s behind the spike? According to state health officials, it’s more a matter of who: young people, particularly among the 15- to 24-year-old age group.

Before you breathe a sigh of relief because young, healthy people are generally less likely to die or become seriously ill from the virus, understand that it’s not that simple. In addition to the fact that there are plenty of younger Americans among the nearly 200,000 who have lost their lives to COVID-19, health experts are clear that the ripple effects may be disastrous as young infected people spread the disease to others.

Said Gov. Gary Herbert on Thursday: “I think this younger population really is acting as kind of the canary in the coal mine.”

The trend of young people contracting the virus at a high rate is not isolated to elsewhere in the state. The transmission of COVID-19 in Summit County has stabilized in recent weeks after the fallout from a “superspreader” party in August, but County Health Director Rich Bullough says many of the new cases here lately are in young adults.

For those of us doing what’s necessary to slow the coronavirus — and in Summit County, that’s most of us — it’s frustrating to see cases back on the rise in Utah due to the carelessness of people who apparently don’t feel vulnerable to COVID-19.

But the age groups driving the surge need to understand something: They’re young but not invincible. Just as important, the people around them aren’t invincible either.

It’s time for them to take the pandemic as seriously as everyone else, before their actions put other people’s lives at stake and drag down Utah’s economy, which seems primed to continue its strong recovery as long as the coronavirus is kept in check. That includes social distancing, avoiding large indoor gatherings and wearing masks around others — the steps most of the rest of us have been taking for six months now.

If they don’t, the consequences will be severe, even if young people aren’t the ones who ultimately suffer most.

As the saying goes, youth is wasted on the young. We now need to make sure the gift of youth doesn’t turn into a curse for everyone else.

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