Almost two-thirds of the people diagnosed with coronavirus in Marion County last month were under the age of 40, according to statistics released Tuesday by the Marion County Health Department.
A full half fell between the ages of 20 to 29.
The month-by-month report reveals how coronavirus has shifted by age since the pandemic began in March. In that month, 38% of those who fell ill were older than 60. By July the percentage of cases in that age group had declined to 14%.
Increased testing may play a role in the changing percentages. When testing was scarce, younger, healthier people with milder cases of the disease were not as likely to be tested. Now, however, anyone can be tested, regardless of age or symptoms.
Differences in behavior also could explain the change. In March, state health officials asked everyone to shelter at home. Now, while everyone is encouraged to wear masks and socially distance, state health officials have advised the elderly to take special care to stay safe.
Still, over time, those in the 20-29 age range have come to represent more and more of the county’s COVID cases, Marion County Health Department Director Virginia A. Caine said Tuesday at a press conference.
Three weeks ago Indianapolis Mayor Joe Hogsett ordered all bars and nightclubs that do not serve food to close through at least Aug. 12, citing in part the role that young people are playing in spreading the virus. Tuesday, he extended that order indefinitely as he and Caine announced that the health department planned to crack down on violators.
“We take this seriously, OK, and we know that we have got to step up our enforcement,” Caine said. “The education and warning period is over.”
The news came as some schools in Marion County return to in-person education. Marion County has established a tiered system for when schools most go online. Middle and high schools can no longer meet in person once the seven-day rate of people testing positive for coronavirus exceeds 10.9%.
On Tuesday morning, Caine noted that the positivity rate was 9.2% in Marion County. A few hours later after the state issued its daily update that had crept up to 9.3%.
But Caine remained optimistic that the tide might be turning. Marion County is seeing fewer new cases per day than it was in July, and emergency room visits are down as well. Deaths are significantly down.
Indianapolis, she said, may be starting to trend toward a plateau.