VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. — The Virginia Beach Department of Health wanted young adults to be sure to follow coronavirus prevention measures for the Fourth of July Weekend. That's because health officials said people in two age groups had seen huge spikes in COVID-19 cases since the last week in May.
The department said the cases increased 240% in people who are younger than 20 years old.
In the 20 to 29 age group, the figure was higher than that. It was around 250%.
"This is real. We are seeing an increase that the things people are doing out in the community are being reflected in our numbers," said Virginia Beach Department of Public Health Director Dr. Demetria Lindsay.
Lindsay explained these cases are coming from large groups that include family celebrations to nightlife.
"And just in our monitoring, people are gathering in large crowds -- particularly at bars -- and also clustering around bars areas and restaurants. All of this is a behavioral activity," said Lindsay.
Some young adults, like 18-year-old Michael Barttels of Virginia Beach, know how COVID-19 can impact the younger generation.
"My sister thought she had it. She had some symptoms of it but she tested negative [and] that was definitely a scare for me," he said. "I stopped going out. I just stop doing things... I didn’t go to work for like, a month or so until I was more comfortable."
Lindsey mentioned the public health department monitors restaurant and bar complaints for non-compliance. Lindsey said if health education at the business does not work, they can suspend an owner's permit.
At the time of this report, there are only three business owners have gotten their permits suspended.
As of Thursday, July 2, the Virginia Department of Health's website showed the number of cumulative cases in the 20 to 29 age group in Virginia Beach was 290.
In the 10 to 19 age group, the figure was 64, and for 0 to 9, it was 31.
Again, those numbers represent all reported cases in their respective age groups since health officials began tracking COVID-19.
Lindsay reminds everyone to wear face coverings when out in public to stay six feet or more from others She said people should avoid close contact with family members who don't live them as well as friends.
Businesses that may have larger crowds, including bars and restaurants, should follow the Governor’s Executive Orders and the associated guidelines for safe operations.
The health department provided this list of steps for parents, young adults, and teenagers to continue to take:
- Avoid large gatherings of people and sharing living spaces with people outside your immediate household.
- Practice social distancing: stay 6 feet apart from others whenever possible.
- Wear a face covering over the nose and mouth while in public, particularly indoors.
- Wash hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds; use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol when soap and water are not available.
- Stay home when sick, except when seeking medical care.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick, including in your home.
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
- Clean and disinfect touched surfaces frequently.
- Cover coughs and sneezes when not wearing a face covering.