A new report from the CDC has found that a significant portion of hospitalizations in the United States have come from younger adults.
Although adults aged 65 years and older are still at the greatest risk during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, a new report from the CDC has found that a significant portion of hospitalizations in the United States have come from younger adults.
As of March 16, there were 4226 COVID-19 cases reported in the United States. Reports increased to 500 or more per day beginning March 14.
Early data from China found that a majority of COVID-19 deaths occurred among adults aged 60 years or older, or among those with underlying health conditions. The new CDC report is the first preliminary findings on outcomes among patients with COVID-19 in the United States.
Researchers at the CDC analyzed data from 49 states, Washington DC, and 3 US territories, excluding cases among people repatriated to the United States from Wuhan, China, and from Japan (including those on cruise ships). Notably, some of the data were missing some key characteristics, including hospitalization status, intensive care unit (ICU) admission, death, and age. To manage this, the percentages were estimated as a range.
Adults aged 65 years and older are still at the greatest risk, with 31% of cases, 45% of hospitalizations, 53% of ICU admissions, and 80% of deaths. According to the report, these findings are consistent with reported data from officials in China.
Among 2449 patients with known age, the researchers found that 6% were aged 85 years or older, 25% were 65-84 years of age, 18% were 55-64 years of age, 18% were 45-54 years of age, and 29% were between 20 and 44 years of age. Only 5% of cases occurred in patients aged 19 years or younger.
For those known to have been hospitalized (12% of the total), 9% were aged 85 years or older, 26% were between 65 and 84 years of age, 17% were between 55 and 64 years of age, 18% were between 45 and 54 years of age, and 20% were between 20 and 44 years of age. The percentage of patients hospitalized increased with age, from 2% to 3% among those less than 9 years old, to 31% or more among adults aged 85 years and older.
The researchers also found that nearly half of ICU admissions were among adults between 65 and 84 years old. Specifically, among 121 patients known to have been admitted to an ICU, 7% were 85 or older, 46% were between 65 and 84 years of age, 36% were between 45 and 64 years of age, and 12% were between 20 and 44 years of age. No ICU admissions were reported among patients aged 19 years or younger.
Finally, among the 44 cases with a known outcome, 15 (34%) deaths were reported in adults 85 years of age or older, 20 (46%) among adults between 65 and 84 years of age, and 9 (20%) deaths were among adults between 20 and 64 years of age. Case fatality percentages grew with increasing age.
“These preliminary data also demonstrate that severe illness leading to hospitalization, including ICU admission and death, can occur in adults of any age with COVID-19,” the report said, adding that these findings will help guide CDC recommendations.
Due to the high risk for adults over 65 of age, the report urged family members and caregivers to be aware of any medications they are taking and to ensure that food and required medical supplies are available.
Finally, the authors concluded, staying away from others is key for all ages.
“Social distancing is recommended for all ages to slow the spread of the virus, protect the health care system, and help protect vulnerable older adults,” the report said.
Severe Outcomes Among Patients with Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)—United States, February 12-March 16, 2020. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; March 18, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/69/wr/mm6912e2.htm?s_cid=mm6912e2_w. Accessed March 20, 2020.