20% of US Coronavirus Hospitalizations Are Young Adults, a New CDC Report Says

The data we've seen so far on the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) shows that it's most dangerous for people over the age of 60 and those with preexisting conditions. A new CDC report confirmed that, but also offered proof that COVID-19 can seriously affect younger demographics in higher numbers than many might expect.

The report looked at the first 4,226 community-spread coronavirus cases reported to the CDC up until March 16, excluding anyone who'd returned to the US from Wuhan, China, or Japan. The CDC had age data for about 2,500 of those cases. Analyzing that information, the report noted that the largest portion of known patients were in the 20-44 age range, demonstrating that younger adults are just as likely as anyone to contract the virus. Expanded to include younger middle-aged adults, nearly 40 percent of COVID-19 cases were found between the ages of 20 to 54.

Here's the full breakdown of the initial coronavirus age data:

  • 0-19 years old: 5 percent of US coronavirus patients
  • 20-44 years old: 29 percent
  • 45-54 years old: 18 percent
  • 55-64 years old: 18 percent
  • 65-84 years old: 25 percent
  • 85 or older: 6 percent

The CDC also analyzed the 508 patients of that group who were hospitalized. That data showed that 65- to 84-year-olds were most likely to be hospitalized for the coronavirus, but that 20 percent of hospitalizations remained in the 20-to-44-year-old age range.

Of recorded hospitalizations with age data, the CDC found the following:

  • 0-19 years old: less than 1 percent of US coronavirus hospitalizations
  • 20-44 years old: 20 percent of hospitalizations
  • 45-54 years old: 18 percent of hospitalizations
  • 55-64 years old: 17 percent of hospitalizations
  • 65-84 years old: 26 percent of hospitalizations
  • 85 or older: 9 percent of hospitalizations

In keeping with prior data, the CDC found that 31 percent of overall cases and 45 percent of hospitalizations occurred among adults over the age of 65. Eighty percent of coronavirus-related deaths also occurred within that age range.

However, the numbers of younger adults infected and hospitalized might be the most surprising. "I think everyone should be paying attention to this," said Stephen Morse, PhD, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University, speaking with The New York Times about the study. "It's not just going to be the elderly. There will be people age 20 and up. They do have to be careful, even if they think that they're young and healthy." (The report did not include data on whether younger patients had preexisting conditions that may have made them more vulnerable, such as immune system deficiencies.)

The new information also shows that it's more crucial than ever to take precautions against the virus, even if you don't consider yourself among the most susceptible. Social distancing and other recommended precautions like washing your hands frequently (for 20 seconds with soap and water), staying home if you're sick, and disinfecting high-touch surfaces are among the best ways to protect yourself and others. Here are more ways to prevent and treat the novel coronavirus.

POPSUGAR aims to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information about the coronavirus, but details and recommendations about this pandemic may have changed since publication. For the latest information on COVID-19, please check out resources from the WHO, CDC, and local public health departments.