A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that it isn’t just the elderly who need to worry about becoming seriously sick from the coronavirus. While those in their 70s, 80s, and 90s have the highest likelihood of dying from the disease, nearly 40 percent of people hospitalized in the U.S. were between the ages of 20 and 54, and nearly half the cases in intensive care units (ICU) were under 65.
According to The New York Times, of nearly 2,500 people who have tested positive in the United States, 508 were hospitalized. Of those, 121 were admitted to the ICU for treatment.
“I think everyone should be paying attention to this,” said Stephen S. Morse, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. “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.”
Other countries battling the disease have found something similar. Both Italy and France have released reports showing similar findings of young adults needing intensive care and being hospitalized with the virus.
Dr. Deborah Birx, a doctor and State Department official, said during a briefing on Wednesday that younger Americans need to take the outbreak seriously and stop socializing in groups.
“You have the potential then to spread it to someone who does have a condition that none of us knew about, and cause them to have a disastrous outcome,” she said to the millennial generation.
It isn’t just the threat of spreading it to individuals who are more susceptible to the effects of the disease, the report reveals. Of the people hospitalized with COVID-19, 20 percent were of the millennial generation and 12 percent of the people in intensive care were as well.
Dr. Christopher Carlsten, who heads up respiratory medicine at the University of British Columbia, said that young people have a sense that they will be able to withstand the disease. But “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.”
The study examined people who hadn’t traveled to China or Japan and included patients of all ages. It didn’t specify whether any of the people had underlying conditions that could have made them more susceptible to the effects of the virus.
Still, experts note, even if these individuals did have underlying medical conditions, their hospitalization took up a significant amount of staffing and space during the pandemic, which has threatened the economy and raised concerns about skyrocketing unemployment potential.