COVID is Spreading More Among These People, CDC Warns
COVID-19 has begun to seriously affect a demographic previously thought to be less susceptible to the disease: Younger people. Earlier this month, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said hospitals are seeing more younger adults showing up with COVID-19, at the same time cases among people older than 60 are declining. "Cases and emergency room visits are up," said Walensky. "We are seeing these increases in younger adults, most of whom have not yet been vaccinated." Why is this happening, and can you reduce the risk to yourself and your loved ones? Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss this urgent news: Here's How You Can Catch COVID Even If You're Vaccinated.
Younger People Are Increasingly Affected
"We're definitely facing yet another surge, and quite honestly, this is one of the worst we've seen since the pandemic began," said Dr. Darryl Elmouchi, president of Spectrum Health West Michigan, WOOD-TV reported this week. The coronavirus is now affecting younger people, said Elmouch. At his hospital, the average age of COVID-19 inpatients is 57, almost a decade younger than during the last COVID surge. And 15 percent of patients are younger than 40.
The Increase Is Happening Around The Country
Last week, Dr. Paul Offit of Children's Hospital of Philadelphia told NBC News he is now seeing more young patients with a rare inflammatory COVID complication than at any time since the pandemic began. At the same time, Dr. James McDeavitt, dean of clinical affairs at Baylor College of Medicine in Texas, says his hospital has seen more admissions of young people with COVID-19. Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York has also warned about the increase of COVID cases among young people in his state.
Length of Hospital Stays Is Increasing
"The length of stay of patients in our hospitals during the surge over the winter was long," said Elmouchi. "It shortened in the beginning of this [surge], because we were seeing a younger demographic that had less co-morbidities and was healthier, but over the last couple of weeks, our length of stay increased yet again, showing that people are in fact becoming sicker and having more complicated courses."
Otherwise Healthy Children Are Being Affected
"We've seen many kids that have had a very healthy life and very active that are now presenting with symptoms from COVID-19," Dr. Hossain Marandi, a pediatrician, told WOOD-TV. "As the incidence of the illness is lower in children, we are seeing some kids who are having significant issues with this virus now."
What's Causing This?
Doctors attribute the rise of COVID-19 in younger people largely to B.1.1.7, the coronavirus variant first identified in the United Kingdom that is up to 60% more transmissible than the original coronavirus and is suspected to cause more severe disease. It is now the most common strain circulating in the U.S.
"I think they're getting infected more frequently because of the contagiousness of the virus," Offit, a virology and immunology expert who has advised the CDC and FDA, told NBC News this week. "For that reason, I think you will see and are seeing more disease" in children and young adults, he said.
What This Means
Even though more young people may get sick, most of them won't become severely ill, particularly school-aged children, Dr. Stephen Schrantz, an infectious disease expert at UChicago Medicine, told NBC News. He said young adults with comorbidities such as obesity, hypertension and diabetes, are likely more at risk — just like adults with those conditions.
"While the virus is changing, I do not believe the mutations in the spike protein will have an increased virulence in kids because their bodies, and more specifically their immune systems, just react less severely to the virus," said Schrantz.
How To Survive This Pandemic
As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.