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DES MOINES, Iowa — COVID-19 is spiking again in Iowa, but unlike the state’s most recent peak from mid-April through May, the primary affected are ages 18 to 40. 

“A lot of this has to do with our behavioral trends. The older population we’ve noted is taking more precautions and the younger population who, given the fact that we knew that older people were more predisposed, younger people have a sense of invincibility,” said infectious disease physician Dr. Megan Srinivas.

As the state reopened, younger Iowans were not only gathering at bars and restaurants, they were also returning to work. Srinivas says this increases the likelihood of infection, which we are now seeing reflected in the state’s data.

“We kind of saw that happened during June, when people started slowly easing back into normal life. And we saw that nothing was immediately happening. Just a few cases here and there, and it’s really now that we’re seeing that increase the uptick in cases,” said Srinivas.

Gov. Kim Reynolds eliminated capacity limits on businesses on June 12. Fourteen days later COVID-19 cases started to trend upwards. Today, a month later, the state announced more than 700 new COVID-19 cases.

As many medical professionals continue to recommend face masks and shields, a study published in The Lancet, a weekly medical journal, reaffirmed the need of social distancing, face coverings, and eye protection as a preventative measure.

In an excerpt from the study’s findings it says:

“Transmission of viruses was lower with physical distancing of 1 m or more, compared with a distance of less than 1 m … Face mask use could result in a large reduction in risk of infection, with stronger associations with N95 or similar respirators compared with disposable surgical masks or similar. Eye protection also was associated with less infection.”

“They seem like simple things that you can do that they actually are so effective and still enable you to go about your normal life. And on top of that, it’s really all we’ve got unfortunately right now. Prevention is the only tool at our disposal,” said Srinivas.

The state recently changed its parameters for identifying “recovered” persons, now automatically considering someone recovered after 28 days, unless specified otherwise to the Iowa Department of Public Health. Srinivas says this can give a false sense of what recovered actually means, citing the the side effects of COVID-19 can last for months.

“We’re seeing this virus impacting essentially every system in your body from your lungs to your heart to your kidneys to your liver, because it works on the vascular system and it attacks the vascular system on top of your respiratory system, it can really invade your whole body, and thus the dire consequences lasts far beyond that, 20 days, so that recovery is really a misinformer that’s leading people into a false sense of security,” said Srinivas.

If someone has already contracted the virus or has antibodies present in their bloodstream, it does not ensure that the individual can’t be reinfected. Srinivas says current data does not support that claim, and that the presence of antibodies and its meaning is still being studied.