TRENTON, NJ — The State Health Commissioner has stern words for younger New Jersey residents who feel as if they are impervious to COVID-19.

In fact, residents 18-29 make up the fastest growing COVID-19 group in the state, State Health Commissioner Judy Persichilli said during Monday’s COVID-19 briefing.

She said they will be one of the target audiences when the state rolls out a COVID-19 awareness ad campaign next week.

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“I want to especially emphasize to our young people that they are not invincible or immune to COVID-19,” she said.

The numbers bear her out.

In April, residents 18-29 made up 12% of the total COVID-19 cases. That number rose to 22% in June.

MORE: COVID-19 Cases Rise Among Young People in Westfield, Mayor Says

There have been 24,000 cases, 730 hospitalizations and 53 deaths from the coronavirus in the state in the age range

Persichilli referenced the sudden rise of COVID-19 cases in Westfield, where 17 new confirmed cases were reported in the first 17 days of July. Mayor Shelley Brindle said that 10 of those cases emerged over a three-day period. The spike came after almost two weeks of no new cases, Brindle said.

Persichilli said that it is believed that the cases in the Union County town stem from graduation and Independence Day parties.

She hinted at the fact that younger people who test positive for COVID-19 are sometimes asymptomatic. That means they could transmit the virus before getting their test results and infect others.

“People at any age can get sever illness from COVID-19,” she said. “We need all residents to continue to take precautions and not to just protect themselves but to protect all of us.”

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