Fact Check: Are millennials causing community spread of COVID-19 in El Paso?


EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — Mayor Dee Margo raised eyebrows on Thursday morning after claiming millennials are responsible for the community spread of COVID-19 in El Paso. 

The City of El Paso held a press conference Thursday to address the recent spike in cases throughout the Borderland and to outline new restrictions that will take effect on Friday.

A multitude of available data, however, underscores a complex system of challenges that have contributed to millennial vulnerability during this period.

An examination of community social vulnerability indexes, which uses socioeconomic status, minority status, household composition, type of housing and access to transportation, determined that people who are most socially vulnerable correspond to the majority of El Paso’s demographics: low-income and Hispanic and/or Latino.

According to El Paso Matters, millennials (people currently aged 20 to 39) make up a much smaller proportion of COVID-19 cases than at previous points during the pandemic. The current data shows that younger (Gen Z) and older (Gen X and some Boomers) comprise a higher percentage of cases. 

In August, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that people between the ages of 20 and 40 (mostly millennial) were primary drivers of COVID-19 spread because the population was reporting for work.

Pew Research Center reports that 35 percent between the ages of 18 and 29 (Gen Z and millennial generations) and 30 percent of 30- to 49-year-olds (millennial and Gen X) either lost a job or know someone who has as a result of the pandemic. 

More than 22 million people lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic in the United States and only 42 percent of jobs were recovered as of August. 

Jobs are scarce, and many must choose between potential exposure to COVID-19 by accepting employment opportunities as an essential worker or face continued unemployment. 

The contraction of COVID-19 is also largely influenced by a person’s income and race. 

An analysis of cell phone data found that 25 percent more financially well-off individuals were likely to stay home — therefore avoiding exposure — compared to 10 percent of people earning low wages. 

El Paso continues to struggle to contain the spread of COVID-19 and city leaders say they are hopeful the new measures will be effective even though high-traffic public places like food-serving bars, restaurants and gyms will remain open. 

The imposition of extended restrictions on millennials was raised, but Margo dismissed the suggestion of quarantining an entire generation of people who also make up a large part of the local workforce and economy.

“There is an unprecedented amount of new cases that require immediate action,” said Margo.

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