WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
- Authorities said on Thursday that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was considering the social media platform TikTok as a means of reaching out to younger Americans in spreading health and safety precautions amid growing new cases of COVID-19.
- According to CDC Deputy Director Jay Butler, the younger population might not be taking the pandemic as “seriously” as the older Americans.
- Younger people may have lower fatality and hospitalization rate, but Butler said that there is still risk of severe illness that can affect them.
As coronavirus cases in the US continue to surge among young Americans, health officials on Thursday said that they will take advantage of the growing popularity of the social media platform TikTok to appeal to this age group and promote health and safety precautions.
In a conference call with reporters, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Robert Redfield said that the new cases of virus nationwide are skewed towards younger individuals. While they are at a lower risk of having severe disease and death, the percentage of them infecting older adults and at-risk people can increase.
CDC Deputy Director Jay Butler, who joined the call, said that young people might be taking the pandemic not as serious as older Americans.
“We may need to get out the message that young people are not somehow naturally immune to this virus, although they may be at lower risk of severe infection…The tools that can be used include social media. We’re exploring TikTok,” Butler said.
“That is something we’re looking into and I’m of the age that I have to stop and think what is a TikTok, but I’ve learned that over the past month,” he added.
There’s still no response from representatives from TikTok on whether the health agency has already reached out to them regarding the planned campaign.
Butler also shared that aside from TikTok and other social media plans, the agency was considering issuing public service announcements to urge the public to practice social distancing and wearing of face masks.
Various authorities from states with a surge of new infections have blamed the younger population for failing to observe social distancing at jam-packed bars.
In Florida, the mean age of a COVID-19 patient continues to drop in recent weeks. It revealed on Wednesday that the average age was 33 years old — significantly lower than over 65 years old last March.
Younger people may have lower chance of dying or being hospitalized, but Butler said that they are still not excluded from the risk of severe illness brought by the virus. Experts are still determining the long-term health effects of COVID-19 among young patients, which could lead to quality-of-life issues later in their lives.
TikTok, a social media platform operated by Beijing-based tech giant ByteDance, focuses on short-form video that has gained popularity among young people in recent years. Organizations can also pay to place a short-video promotion on its users’ pages.