LOS ANGELES - The longer the COVID-19 pandemic goes on, the younger its victims get.
A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the median age of people with COVID-19 in the U.S. has declined over the spring and summer, with Americans in their 20s now accounting for more cases than people in any other age group.
The findings suggest that if the U.S. wants to get its coronavirus outbreak under control, it will need more cooperation from young adults.
In May, the median age of U.S. residents with COVID-19 was 46. By July, it had dropped to 37, then rose slightly to 38 in August.
Likewise, in May, people in their 20s made up 15.5% of confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide. At the time, they trailed people in their 30s (who accounted for 16.9% of total cases) as well as people in their 40s and 50s (both of those age groups accounted for another 16.4% of cases).
But by June, 20-somethings had taken over the top spot, making up 20.2% of all cases. That figure rose to 23.2% in July, then dropped back to 21% in August.
The proportion of cases among Americans in their 30s also increased in June and July. But by August, it had fallen slightly below the level seen in May.
Meanwhile, the share of cases among adults 40 and older decreased steadily through the end of July, according to the study.
The trend toward younger COVID-19 patients came as the total number of new cases increased. In May, 604,570 Americans of all ages were diagnosed with COVID-19. By July, that figure exceeded 1 million - a 71% increase.
The CDC researchers who produced the report drew on three kinds of data: They tallied confirmed cases of COVID-19 in reports from state health departments, examined data from the National Syndromic Surveillance Program to identify patients who went to hospital emergency rooms with COVID-19 symptoms and analyzed coronavirus test results from 37 states.