Experts warn younger adults to follow guidelines as cases in age group rise

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) Experts say there are several explanations for a troubling trend found in the growing number of coronavirus cases in Kentucky over the past week.

"There are people of all ages getting the coronavirus in Kentucky," Gov. Andy Beshear said Thursday.

According to the demographic information for cases known as of 6 p.m. Thursday, adults in their 20s was the age group that saw the biggest rise in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Kentucky over the past seven days. In just a week's time, the number of people in that age group with the virus jumped from one to 29.

"We've been telling people that the highest risk is in the elderly population," said Dr. Ryan Stanton, an emergency physician. "Well, that doesn't mean that younger folks can't get it. It also doesn't make them invincible."

Gov. Beshear had previously announced reports of confirmed cases from a coronavirus party and a spring break trip to Florida.

And experts say many young people have made themselves more vulnerable to the coronavirus. The National Institute on Drug Abuse has reported that the virus could be an especially serious threat to those who smoke or vape.

"It just stands to reason - it makes perfect sense - that anybody who introduces toxicity into their lungs is going to weaken lung capacity and the lung's ability to fight off diseases," said Ben Chandler, president/CEO of Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky. "And this is a disease that's coming here, attacking the lungs and it makes the lungs less able to fight that off."

And even if younger people's symptoms are not that bad, officials say they still need to listen to the guidelines and take precautions like social distancing to prevent from passing the virus on to others and putting them in danger.

"This is not a virus to be played with," Dr. Stanton said. "This is a virus that has significant risk to it, and what we want to do is flatten out that curve."