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CDC Report: Coronavirus Strikes All Ages

Half of those hospitalized are under 55, but odds of dying rise with age

A young man and woman visit New York City

KENA BETANCUR/AFP via Getty Images

En español | More than half of the nearly 2,500 Americans who have been hospitalized with COVID-19 are under age 55, but older Americans appear to be at much greater risk of requiring intensive care or of dying after being infected by the novel coronavirus, according to a report issued Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC said 53 percent of intensive-care-unit admissions and 80 percent of deaths occurred among adults age 65 and older, with the highest percentage of severe outcomes among those 85 and older.

The results underscore the need for all Americans to take actions to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus. More than 10,400 cases of COVID-19 and 150 deaths have been confirmed in the United States, as of noon Thursday, according to the CDC. The number is expected to climb as more tests become available.

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 CDC report states. “Persons of all ages and communities can take actions to help slow the spread of COVID-19 and protect older adults."

The report recommends that older adults reduce their risk of being exposed by staying home “as much as possible,” avoiding crowds, keeping space between themselves and others, and staying away from those who are sick. They should also keep an adequate supply of nonperishable foods and maintain at least a 30-day supply of necessary medications.

Speaking at the White House on Thursday, Vice President Mike Pence encouraged Americans to practice the guidelines to reduce the spread of the coronavirus that President Donald Trump outlined Monday.

“Make no mistake, while for the American people as a whole, the risk of serious illness remains low, these guidelines should be practiced by every American — in every community — not only to lessen the spread of the coronavirus but to protect the most vulnerable among us,” Pence said.

The CDC broke down the 2,449 reported cases by age: 123 among people up to age 19, 705 among those ages 20 to 44, 429 among those 45 to 54, 429 among those 55 to 64, 409 among those 65 to 74, 210 among those 75 to 84 and 144 among those 85 and older.

Among the 2,449 cases, 508 (20 percent) required hospitalization, 121 (5 percent) were admitted to an ICU, and 44 adults (1.8 percent) died, according to the report.

No one under 19 required intensive care, but among those 75 to 84, the CDC estimated that between 10.5 and 31 percent required intensive care. For those between age 55 and 74, the CDC estimated that between 4.7 and 18.8 percent required intensive care. The agency estimated death rates of 0.2 percent or less for those 44 or under, increasing for those between 45 and 64 (0.5 to 2.6 percent), those 65 to 74 (2.7 to 4.9 percent), those 75 to 84 (4.3 to 10.5 percent), and 85 and older (10.4 to 27.3 percent).

The CDC report acknowledged that the data on the 2,449 cases was incomplete, which likely resulted in “an underestimation” of hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths. Also, the initial approach to testing was to identify patients with travel histories to Asia or with more severe disease and may have inflated the prevalence of severe disease. The study also did not consider serious underlying health conditions that could increase the risk of complications and severe illness.

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