Even more than partying, though, the spiking cases among millennials, who are a favorite generational scapegoat for just about everything, are likely because young people are also the ones returning to work in droves at the behest of governors who view the health of the economy as more vital than their constituents’ physical wellbeing. Nearly 60 percent of all bar employees, 49 percent of all restaurant and food service employees, and 41 percent of hair salon employees in 2017 were people between the ages of 21 and 36, Business Insider estimated last year. It’s people in such service industry jobs who are among the most at risk of exposure to COVID-19, being as they are among the least financially free to choose not to return to work. And because young people frequently have only mild symptoms, if they’re symptomatic at all, there’s an even larger chance of going to work feeling fine and spreading the disease.
In this sense, anyway, responsibility for the reignited outbreak cannot entirely be dropped on millennials; it is first and foremost a failure of American leadership. Authorities and pundits alike have used the relatively low number of recent deaths in order to avoid having to actually do something substantive about the ballooning case numbers. After all, other countries also have 20- and 30-year-olds, and have managed to get their cases under much better control. While it may be tempting to be optimistic about the positive tests among young people, since the vast majority won’t become gravely ill, our emerging millennial pandemic is certainly not “a good thing,” no matter how anyone tries to spin it. It’s still tragically going to be a boomer remover — one we should have been able to shut off by now.