HOUSTON – At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, older people accounted for most of the positive cases.
But what is fueling the recent surge?
“There are certain counties where a majority of the people who tested positive in that county are under the age of 30,” Governor Greg Abbott said earlier this week.
The statement caught the attention of many. Channel 2 Investigates wanted to know if younger people really are driving the current climb in coronavirus cases.
We looked at the data since Memorial Day when beaches were packed, bars and restaurants started reopening. There were also graduations and historic protests and marches.
While older people, those over 50, still account for most of the COVID-19 deaths in Texas, there has been a trend in recent weeks of younger people — those under 30 — producing more positive cases.
There has been high-profile proof with members of the University of Houston football team testing positive as well as players on the Texas Longhorns football team.
There also have been positive cases for the Houston Texans, the Houston Astros and the Dallas Cowboys.
Dr. Philip Keiser with Galveston County’s health department said the number of cases there are on the rise.
“We are seeing a lot of young people that are coming down with the virus,” Keiser said Wednesday at a news conference.
The age of those infected is trending younger according to Keiser.
“Our average age last week of people that were positive was age 30, the average age of people getting tested was 47,” he said.
Officials believe the major contributing factor is the lack of social distancing.
“We have data from some of the cell phone companies that show in Galveston County less than 7% of the people are social distancing,” Keiser said.
It’s happening in other counties as well, especially those with big universities. Hays County home of Texas State University reported 875 of 1448 cases are people under 30 this week. That translates to well over 50%.
In Brazos County, home of Texas A&M University, 185 of its 314 cases are people under 30.
On Wednesday, KPRC 2 Senior Reporter Phil Archer visited the COVID-19 ward at United Memorial Medical Center where he found the ward packed with younger, sicker people.
“The ward is packed, people are sicker and younger. A large number of our patients, are patients between the ages of 19 and 54,” said Dr. Joseph Varon, UMMC’s Chief of Medicine.
Harris County Public Health currently lists more than half the active cases in the county and in Houston are under the age of 40, with the majority within that group under 30.
”It is far more difficult to educate them to get them to the point to where they believe what you are saying,” said Dr. David Persse with the Houston Health Department.
Persse says one of the key challenges is getting the younger generation to buy into the reality that the surge is now on them.
“If we don’t do something it’s only going to be a matter of time before they or somebody they know is really, really sick,” Presse said.
After speaking with experts and examining the data, it appears Abbott’s statement is true.