COVID-19 numbers have reached 6,000 in the state of West Virginia.

A local doctor says the age of newer patients is trending much younger, which means numbers increase, even if hospitalizations and deaths do not.

“Our average ages are now the 20s, the 30s and the early 40-year-olds,” said Dr. Clark Milton Wheeling Hospital medical director, Corporate Health.

Earlier this month, Dr. Anthony Fauci announced that the average age for COVID-19 patients had dropped by 15 years.

Milton says this presents an interesting conundrum.

Many younger people do not experience as severe of symptoms, or any symptoms at all, but they can spread the virus to others, specifically older family members who could get hit harder.

“We’ve had some deaths in our older people secondary to the COVID. But the numbers that we’re seeing in the hospital are lower. But what we’re seeing is more the number of positives in testing in the community,” Milton said.

Locally, there’s less than 10 people hospitalized at Wheeling Hospital for the virus right now, but Milton knows an outbreak could bring that number up quickly.

And he’s urging people to be mindful for their safety and others.

“Community spread is here,” Milton said. “The numbers are probably higher. However, there’s a subset of population that gets exceedingly ill, and even young people in the south right now are dying from this disease. So we have to maintain our social distancing, masking, and hand washing.”

Milton says that symptoms for younger people could include nausea and vomiting in addition to other more well-known symptoms.