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Despite early reassurances that young people weren’t likely at risk of getting seriously ill or dying due to COVID-19, a new report on cases in the United States found that nearly 40 percent of the 508 patients who’ve needed hospitalization thus far are between 20 and 54 years old.
In many ways, the study supports early conclusions others have made regarding the novel coronavirus: the fatality rate is highest for patients over the age of 65. Among 44 known deaths in the United States, 15 were people over the age of 85, and 20 were people between the ages of 65 and 84. Still, nine adults between the ages of 20 and 64 died, and more ended up seriously sick: nearly half of 121 patients who were admitted to ICUs were adults under the age of 65.
The CDC’s report doesn’t specify whether any of the younger adults cited in the study had underlying health conditions, but either way, the results are a troubling rebuke to younger adults’ claims that they’re “immune” to COVID-19. Younger people can get very sick with coronavirus, and they can also spread it.
“I think everyone should be paying attention to this,” Stephen S. Morse, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, told the Times. “It’s not just going to be the elderly. There will be people age 20 and up. They do have to be careful, even if they think that they’re young and healthy.”
While the overall perceived risk to children remains low, they too can get very sick from COVID-19. A study of patients reported to the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention reported that 125 children out of 2,143 confirmed or suspected cases developed very serious illnesses, and one 14-year-old boy with a confirmed case died. According to the study’s authors, children under 5 years of age may be particularly vulnerable.
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