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Cuomo, local leaders address rise in COVID-19 cases among people in their 20s

'To young people, this is not the time to fight for your right to party,' New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a briefing on Thursday.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo once again called out the rise in COVID-19 cases among people age 20 to 29.

"To young people, this is not the time to fight for your right to party. I respect your right to party. I fully respect it. I would enshrine it in the state law if you want to know. You have the right to party, but let's be smart about it. Right? There's an attitude that young people are immune. You are not," Cuomo said in a coronavirus briefing on Thursday. 

During that briefing, Cuomo also played a video addressing the issue. 

A day prior, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz and Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein shared statistics showing that of those testing positive, more than 35 percent are in the age range of 20 years old to 29 years old.


"Just because you're young doesn't mean you can't get sick or potentially die, but you certainly can pass it on to someone else," Poloncarz said. 

Even if many don't actually feel sick or show symptoms, Dr. Thomas Russo, the chief of infectious disease at the University at Buffalo, told 2 on Your Side there's still a concern when it comes to community spread.

"These younger individuals that are becoming infected with the new coronavirus are what we call the 'silent spreaders," Dr. Russo said.

He added, "They're often asymptomatic so they feel quite well themselves and as a result, they continue to propagate the virus and fuel this pandemic." 

Large gatherings that could lead to further spread are one of the many things on the radar of local law enforcement.

"We have proactive patrols that are out looking for large gatherings in public spaces. We're proactively breaking up those events," Captain Jeff Rinaldo of the Buffalo Police Department said. 

Captain Rinaldo added, thankfully, they've seen mostly compliance -- sentiments shared in the Niagara County Sheriff's office.

"A lot of the regulations have come out pretty fast and furious -- what's allowed, what's not allowed -- what can you do -- what can't you do. Voluntary compliance first, but if we get a complaint we try to take more of an educational role," said Michael Filicetti, the Acting Niagara County Sheriff.

Rinaldo added, "It's in everybody's collective benefit that these guidelines are followed and they continue to be followed so that we do not see a major spike like what we're seeing in other cities and other areas." 

Dr. Russo stressed if people are gathering, they should continue to follow the public health measures in place. 

He said, "At least physically separate yourselves when you can't wear a mask and whenever you can wear a mask, it's critically important that you do so, so we can prevent from spreading this lethal virus."

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