Why 30s, 20s are now age groups with most positive COVID-19 tests in Minnesota

It's clear the COVID-19 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the elderly and those with underlying health conditions, but new figures prove younger people are contracting the virus just as often if not more frequently. 

As the state increases testing, we're starting to see the highest number of positive cases among younger populations, particularly those in their 20s and 30s. 

According to the Minnesota Department of Health, 19 percent of total statewide cases are people in their 30s. That is the highest percentage of cases out of all age demographics, followed by those in their 20s.

"I do think it was likely there before," said Dr. George Morris of CentraCare. "Now, we are just identifying it and giving people the information they need to care for them and their families."

Experts say it's not that more young people are sick but that more are getting tested.

"As we test more broadly in the community, we’re finding more in a broader range of people and that’s just reflecting that we’re capturing more of what’s occurring," said Professor Craig Hedberg, U of M School of Public Health.

The Minnesota Department of Health says this sudden bump can also be explained by all the testing now happening at meat processing plants where the workforce tends to be younger.

Dr. Morris is a physician for Centracare, a rural healthcare provider that has increased testing in the last two weeks. In the St. Cloud area where he practices, there are two major poultry plants.

"Early on, we were reserving the tests for our at-risk populations," explained Dr. Morris. "Now by expanding, looking for it more, you look at the ratios over time. Now teens, 20s, 30s, it's much more of a spread."

Still, those cases in people 39 and younger represent less than one percent of death,  as older populations are still the highest risk. The median age of those dying from coronavirus in Minnesota is 83.