COVID cases hit record highs in the Southern Tier, and most of them are young people


STEUBEN COUNTY, NY (WETM) – COVID cases in New York and the U.S. have started to dip. Conversely, cases in the Southern Tier are soaring to record highs, and it is largely due to younger people.

“A year ago it was the elderly who were hardest hit with COVID, so I think that there is a mindset that they’ll [younger people] be invincible,” said Darlene Smith, Steuben County Public Health Director.

Steuben and Chemung County are hitting active case numbers of over 400, and COVID has seemed to switch up its route.

When we look at Steuben County’s numbers, out of 112 new cases as of Wednesday, 70% of those cases come from age groups 40 and under. And, the age group that leads with the most positive cases comes from those that are ages zero to eleven.

“The rates are higher because the Delta variant is so contagious and it will find a host, it will find those who are not vaccinated,” said Smith. “As the data has shown it’s primarily the younger individuals who are not vaccinated at this point, and those age groups are seeing a dramatic increase in the rate of positivity.”

In those that are eligible, rates of vaccination in younger age groups in Steuben County are all under 50%.

“I think it comes down to the fact that we are used to knowing that if you are younger, your immune system is stronger and more robust, and you shouldn’t have as severe of complications but that’s not necessarily true… with this virus,” said Dr. Justin Nistico, Infectious Disease Specialist at Arnot Health.

Mortality rates in younger individuals have also jumped significantly. According to Nistico, in the past year, mortality rates for those 40-64 have jumped 10%, and for those younger than that, that mortality rate has doubled from two to four percent.

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