Most people who develop COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus, will be able to remain at home during their period of infection and will fully recover.
Those who have to be hospitalized because of breathing difficulties and other significant symptoms, however, face a trying ordeal, including the possibility of needing a ventilator to breathe. So far, only about a third of patients put on ventilators survive.
The large majority of COVID-19 sufferers who need to be hospitalized are older and already had health problems, new research shows.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention this week released a study of 1,482 COVID-19 patients from 14 states, including Oregon, who were admitted to a hospital between March 1 and March 28. The research found that about 90% of those studied had one or more “underlying condition” and nearly 75% were 50 years of age or older.
The 5 most common underlying conditions of COVID-19 patients requiring hospitalization, according to the study:
Chronic lung disease: 34.6%
Diabetes mellitus: 28.3%
Cardiovascular disease: 27.8%
Obesity was the most prevalent underlying condition for patients under 65; for those over 65, hypertension was number one.
The large majority of hospitalizations were people 50 and older (74.5%). Almost all the rest (24.7%) were between 18 and 49 years of age. Patients admitted to the hospital who were under 18 made up only 0.4% of the total.
More men (54.4%) were hospitalized than women. And African-Americans were disproportionately impacted, making up 33.1% of COVID-19 hospital admissions in the study. (The African-American population overall in the U.S. is about 12%.)
The reported COVID-19 death rates range wildly from country to country, from less than 1% in Israel at the end of March to a stunning 11% in Italy. These death rates are likely to come down over time as testing becomes widespread, leading to greater knowledge about the prevalence of people infected with the coronavirus who are asymptomatic.
The CDC writes that the study’s findings “underscore the importance of preventive measures (e.g., social distancing, respiratory hygiene, and wearing face coverings in public settings where social distancing measures are difficult to maintain) to protect older adults and persons with underlying medical conditions, as well as the general public.”
— Douglas Perry
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