COVID-19: Young age doesn't grant total immunity

Alex McIntyre | The Daily Wildcat

The UA College of Medicine in Tucson, Ariz.

The U.S. population is currently about 327 million people, of which nearly one-third consists of people 65 years of age and older. That's a lot.

The older generations lived through the Great Depression and fought in World Wars. Millennials and members of Generation Z are being asked to stay inside. To each their own.

A new report by the Center for Disease Control has indicated in the time frame of Feb. 12 to March 16, 38% of hospitalizations due to COVID-19 were in people aged 20 to 54. Let that sink in.

That doesn't mean that nearly 40% of people to get COVID-19 were aged 20 to 54. It means that these cases were serious enough to require being in a hospital and in need of physician treatment.


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The same report indicates that out of the cases confirmed by Monday, March 16, 49% of them were in people younger than 55 years of age. That's nearly half.

The report from the CDC did not indicate whether or not the millennials had underlying health conditions, but that's trivializing the matter too much. If diabetes or hypertension qualify as underlying health conditions, then a very large portion of the American population falls under this umbrella.

Young people are not immune

COVID-19 hospitalizations, intensive care unit (ICU) admissions and deaths, by age group in the U.S. from Feb. 12 to March 16, 2020

Source: CDC

A new report by the CDC indicates that over 34% of U.S. adults are living with diabetes, whether they know it or not, and according to the American Heart Association, "In the United States, about 77.9 million (1 out of every 3) adults have high blood pressure."

So maybe "underlying health conditions" isn't as far away as you thought. That term probably describes someone who is quarantining in your home right now.

Flattening the curve

Protective measures are working to flatten the curve which can reduce the possibility of overwhelming the U.S. healthcare system.

Source: CDC/The New York Times

Social distancing isn't just necessary to save the elderly population; it's necessary to save yourself and to avoid being sent to the hospital or even worse, the intensive care unit.

The ICU, as the name implies, provides medical care and life support for those who have become critically ill and are in dire situations.

In the U.S., a total of 121 patients were sent to the ICU as of March 16, and 48% of ICU admissions were in people younger than 65 years of age, according to the same report from the CDC.

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The numbers aren't meant to bring fear, but rather, they're meant to hammer home the message of social distancing. Leading experts in the field are begging millennials and everyone younger to do their civic duty and practice responsible and proper social distancing.

"I think they should be practicing social distancing because even if — and I think it's still true that younger people are at much, much less risk of getting into trouble — that doesn't mean they aren't going to get infected and then they are going to infect the older people. So everybody should be taking really good care to avoid infection," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who has become a national leader on informing about COVID-19 on NBC.

As the data shows, the typical college student isn't immune to COVID-19, and neglecting a civic duty to practice social distancing is going to make a culture of social distancing and quarantining last a lot longer than it has to.

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