The county health department this week released its first demographic profile of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 in Hancock County. The numbers are eye-opening.

As you would expect, fully a third of victims are at least 60 years old, and half are over 50. But one age group outstrips all the others, and it’s not who you would think.

It’s those 30 to 39 years old.

Because of shortcomings with testing, our total number of identified cases is a small sample size, and demographers would warn not to put much stock in it. But it does illustrate one important fact about the coronavirus outbreak.

COVID-19 isn’t targeting just older people. Its vector is everywhere.

Statewide, a look at the demographics bears this out. Starting at age 30, every 10-year age group has at least 14% of the confirmed cases, with those 50 to 59 years old making up the largest portion, at 19%. Even setting aside all the variables on how we’re testing people, younger Hoosiers still have a stout share of the infections.

Dr. Sandra Aspy, the Hancock County health officer, said that might be more troubling than it looks. Members of the 30-39 age group are more likely to be interacting with both younger people and those who are older, such as parents and grandparents.

“To me, that would be the group that would be the most likely to… expose it to our more vulnerable groups,” Aspy told the Daily Reporter’s Mitchell Kirk for a story earlier this week. “To me, that’s why that breakdown is significant. I hate to say it, but maybe that’s a group that still has to work and maybe not being as good about social distancing as they could be.”

By “vulnerable groups,” Aspy was referring to older people, who are at risk of getting very sick with COVID-19 and who so far make up a hugely disproportionate share of deaths in Indiana.

Those 50 and older make up 58% of Indiana’s cases so far. They make up 98% of the deaths, according to the state health department’s figures from earlier this week.

The message in the local numbers — even if they prove to be an anomaly as more data accumulates — is straightforward: Anyone can harbor this disease. Experts say younger people might not ever show symptoms. But they can shed the virus, to be picked up by someone who might not be so fortunate.

That’s an important reminder.
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