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Who is dying from COVID-19 in the U.S.? New CDC research offers limited clues

Nearly no people under age 20 need hospitalization.

Who is dying from COVID-19 in the U.S.? New CDC research offers limited clues
[Photo: Francisco Àvia/Hospital Clínic/Flickr]

The CDC just speed-published a study of the first 4,226 reported U.S. COVID-19 cases, and the news is not good:

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  • COVID-19 is bad for boomers: Adults over age 65, who make up just 15% of the population, account for a third of reported cases, roughly half of all hospitalizations and ICU admissions, and 80% of deaths.
  • Coronavirus is grim for people over age 85: The death rate in this age group among reported cases—those tested and confirmed—so far is 11-30%.
  • Younger adults can get extremely ill too: Many patients ages 20-54 need extensive medical care. Of the hospitalized patients in the study, 38% belong to that age group, though nearly all recover. “Clinicians should be aware that COVID-19 can result in severe disease among persons of all ages,” write the researchers.
  • Teens and children get a free pass: Under 1% of hospitalized patients are under age 20. This aligns with reports from China, where only one person under age 20 has reportedly died from COVID-19.

The study was published in extreme haste: It tracked patients from February 12 to March 16 and was published on March 18. This means that some key details, such as underlying health conditions, are missing from the data; many patients are still sick, so their final outcomes are unknown. The study provides a good snapshot of which age groups are most affected and how; overall death and hospitalization rates will likely shift as more Americans have access to testing.

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