CDC: 20% of US COVID-19 Hospitalizations Occurred in Young Adults

March 20, 2020

A review of US patients with COVID-19 showed that 20% of hospitalizations occurred among adults aged 20-44 years.

A review of US patients diagnosed with novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that 20% of hospitalizations occurred in adults aged 20-44 years. 

The Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report released March 18, 2020 indicates that despite the current expectation of older adults being at the highest risk, younger adults are not exempt from COVID-19-related harm.

The CDC analyzed 4226 COVID-19 cases in the US reported between February 12 and March 16 in order to assess rates of hospitalization, admission to intensive care unit (ICU), and death among COVID-19 patients by age group.

Overall, 31% of cases, 45% of hospitalizations, 53% of ICU admissions, and 80% of deaths associated with COVID-19 were among adults aged ≥65 years, the highest percentage of severe outcomes being among those aged ≥85 years.

“Similar to reports from other countries, this finding suggests that the risk for serious disease and death from COVID-19 is higher in older age groups,” said researchers in the report. “In contrast, persons aged ≤19 years appear to have milder COVID-19 illness, with almost no hospitalizations or deaths reported to date in the United States in this age group.”

Patients aged 20-44 years should still be more cautious, however, because the percentage of persons hospitalized increased with age, going from 2%-3% among adults aged ≤19 years to ≥31% among adults aged ≥85 years.

The report also found that among 121 patients admitted to an ICU, 7% were aged ≥85 years, 46% aged 65-84 years, 36% aged 45-64 years, and 12% aged 20-44 years. No ICU admissions were reported for patients aged ≤19 years.

Over one-third of the 44 reported deaths occurred among adults aged ≥85 years, followed by 46% among adults aged 65-84 years and 20% among those aged 20-64 years.

Patients repatriated to the US from Wuhan, China, and from Japan, including those repatriated from cruise ships, were excluded from the CDC analysis. Data on serious underlying health conditions were not available and several cases were missing key data, the researchers noted.

“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,” said researchers.

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