While much of the media coverage surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) says that senior citizens are at the greatest risk, new data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that people aged 20-54 account for 38 percent of the virus-related hospitalizations.
Yes, it’s true that the older population accounts for the bulk of virus-related deaths, but other than that, the impact is fairly even across the board.
The updated data
As of March 16’s latest count of reported COVID-19 cases, here’s how things break out:
Number of cases
Total number of cases: 4,226
Age 85 or older: 6 percent
Age 65–84: 25 percent
Age 55-64: 18 percent
Age 45-54: 18 percent
Age 20-44: 29 percent
Age 0-19: 5 percent
Total number of hospitalizations: 508
Age 85 or older: 9 percent
Age 65–84: 26 percent
Age 55-64: 17 percent
Age 45-54: 18 percent
Age 20-44: 20 percent
Age 0-19: Less than 1 percent
Total number of ICU admissions: 121
Age 85 or older: 7 percent
Age 65–84: 46 percent
Age 45-64: 36 percent
Age 20-44: 12 percent
Age 0-19: 0 percent
Heads up, young Americans
The CDC’s updated numbers caught pretty much everyone by surprise given the narrative that’s been at the forefront of the pandemic.
“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 New York Times. “It’s not just going to be the elderly. There will be people aged 20 and up. They do have to be careful, even if they think that they’re young and healthy.”
Another physician -- Dr. Christopher Carlsten, head of respiratory medicine at the University of British Columbia -- took the opportunity to wag his finger at those who feel invincible.
“Younger people may feel more confident about their ability to withstand a virus like this,” Carlsten told the Times. He connected the dots a bit further by adding, “if that many younger people are being hospitalized, that means that there are a lot of young people in the community that are walking around with the infection.”
Officials ask young people to change attitudes
The White House’s task force on the epidemic hopes that young people hear the message loud and clear -- and try to reverse their laissez-faire attitude on the virus.
“You have the potential [to spread the virus] to someone who does have a condition that none of us knew about, and cause them to have a disastrous outcome,” Dr. Deborah Birx said, challenging that demographic at a White House briefing on Wednesday.