Category Archives: Young adults

Troubling trend in Bay Area pandemic – more young people infected, ill

[Solano County’s COVID age group data doesn’t mesh with age group data given in this report.  But I can report that 10% of Solano cases are youth under 18, significantly higher than in April.  And although the 18-49 age group is 41% of the County population, it represents over 61% of total cases, by far the highest percentage of all age groups.  More Solano data here.  – R.S.]

Troubling trend in pandemic: More young people infected, ill

San Francisco Chronicle, By Catherine Ho, August 10, 2020

A young crowd attends the Juneteenth celebration at Lake Merritt in Oakland. Young people make up thefastest-growing demographic contracting the coronavirus in many regions.
A young crowd attends the Juneteenth celebration at Lake Merritt in Oakland. Young people make up the fastest-growing demographic contracting the coronavirus in many regions. Photo: Nina Riggio / Special to The Chronicle

As the coronavirus enters its eighth month, a troubling trend has emerged in the Bay Area and around the nation: More young people are getting sick, in numbers so large that in some regions they now make up the largest and fastest-growing demographic contracting the virus.

It marks a dramatic shift from the narrative that dominated the early weeks of the pandemic, when health experts emphasized that older adults, in part due to the higher likelihood of chronic health conditions, were most at risk of falling ill.

“We are seeing increased rates of infection among young adults,” Santa Clara County public health officer Dr. Sara Cody said at a July county board of supervisors meeting. “It’s where the epidemic is spreading the most quickly. … This is disproportionately accelerating among young adults.”

In six Bay Area counties, people in their 30s or younger make up the largest proportion of cases. In San Francisco, for instance, 18-to-40-year-olds represent 48% of all cases; in Santa Clara County, 20-39­year-olds represent 39% of all cases. Anecdotally, the region’s medical clinics are reporting a major uptick in younger people coming in with COVID-19 symptoms like shortness of breath, fever and cough.

Statewide, the number of cases among people ages 18 to 34 shot up 1358% between May 1 and Aug. 1, from 12,373 to 180,354 — representing an increase from 24% of all cases to 35% of all cases, according to the California Department of Public Health. During the same period, the number of cases among people 65 and older grew more slowly, 387%, from 11,547 to 56,206 — representing a drop from 22% of all cases to 11% of all cases.

At the Stanford coronavirus outpatient clinic, the proportion of patients under age 40 has more than doubled since April, from about 25% to 55%, said Dr. Maja Artandi, the clinic’s medical director.

In the South Bay, Kaiser is seeing more patients under age 30 getting hospitalized with COVID-19, which was unusual during the first surge in March. And more patients in their 20s are also seeking medical care for the virus from their primary care doctors.

“It’s worrisome,” said Dr. Charu Ramaprasad, an infectious disease physician in Kaiser’s San Jose Medical Center, who has been leading much of the health system’s coronavirus response.

Health officials and physicians have not pinpointed exactly why younger adults appear to be driving the latest surge in infections. But many believe it is likely because young people have been going out more — either for jobs that require them to interact with the public frequently, or in social settings — and are being more lax about social distancing and wearing masks.

And younger people may experience less severe symptoms, which may lead them to think it’s OK to gather with friends if they have just a minor cough or a scratchy throat, said Dr. Aisha Mays, medical director of the Dream Youth Clinic at Roots Community Health Center in Oakland.

“We have seen our young folks have a false sense of security that make them more susceptible to contracting COVID,” Mays said. “In the beginning, we were really concerned about our elderly population because they are so much more susceptible to the negative effects of COVID, including death. At the same time, it might have sent an unintended message to our young people that they were more immune to contracting COVID.

“We know that’s not true. We know young people can still contract COVID as easily as anyone else.”

People in their 20s and 30s are less likely to be hospitalized or die from the coronavirus than people in their 60s and 70s. Eight out of 10 coronavirus-related deaths in the United States have been among adults 65 or older, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And hospitalization rates for people between 18 to 29 years old are 56 per 100,000, compared to 281 per 100,000 for people between 65 and 74 years old.

Still, many young people have symptoms severe enough to send them to the emergency room or intensive care. And even if they have mild symptoms, they still risk exposing older family members or friends who may get much sicker from the virus.

One of them is Tyler Lopez, 27, who in June began experiencing fatigue and chest congestion and lost his sense of smell. Lopez tested positive for the coronavirus, quarantined for 10 days and felt like he had recovered — but was soon hit with a second and much more severe wave of symptoms.

His heart rate repeatedly shot up to above 120, at times going as high as 140, even when he was sitting or lying down, and he had a fever and chest pain so bad it felt like the inside of his chest was inflamed, he said.

Lopez, who lives in Riverside, was admitted to a hospital twice. Doctors ran tests and concluded the COVID-19 infection likely caused inflammation in the tissue surrounding the heart, and that he could’ve gone into cardiac arrest if the medication he received at the hospital had not reduced the inflammation fast enough, he said.

“It’s just crazy what COVID can do,” said Lopez, who was released from the hospital last week and is recovering at home. He plans to go back to his doctor next week to see if he can get cleared to return to work — nearly two months after he first noticed symptoms. “The past couple months, it totally changed my life.”

Before he got sick, Lopez said, he did not take the virus seriously and continued going to the gym and meeting up with friends.

“I was like, ‘It’s not that big of a deal, whatever, if I get it, I get it,’ ” he said. “I was just living life without taking that extra precaution.”

He now wishes he had been more careful.

“It jacked me up,” he said. “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.”

Local health officials recently launched initiatives to urge people in their teens and 20s to practice social distancing, wear masks and limit activities to the outdoors like biking or hiking. Contra Costa County beginning Aug. 10 will start training hundreds of youth ambassadors to help get the message out to their peers.

A regional effort led by seven Bay Area public health departments, Crushing the Curve, has a similar aim.

Brandi House, 19, will participate in both programs as a youth leader. She said many of her acquaintances and coworkers have been going to parties during the pandemic, not believing the virus is serious or that they will get sick. She hopes to help dispel such attitudes.

“The message I’d like to put out for young people is to know this is real,” said House, of Richmond. “I know a lot of people not believing COVID is real. I know people that are still going to parties and stuff. I’m like, ‘Why are you going to parties during this time?’

“There’s a lot of people that have been getting sick and passing from it. That’s one message I want to get out.”

Younger adults are large percentage of COVID 19 hospitalizations in U.S., according to new CDC data

Millennials warned they are not immune.

Washington Post, By Ariana Eunjung Cha, March 19, 2020 5:55am PDT


The deadly coronavirus has been met with a bit of a shrug among some in the under-50 set in the United States. Even as public health officials repeatedly urged social distancing, the young and hip spilled out of bars on Bourbon Street in New Orleans. They gleefully hopped on flights, tweeting about the rock-bottom airfares. And they gathered in packs on beaches.

Their attitudes were based in part on early data from China, which suggested that covid-19 might seriously sicken or kill the elderly — but spare the young.

Stark new data from the United States and Europe suggests otherwise.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analysis of U.S. cases from Feb. 12 to March 16 released Wednesday shows that 38 percent of those sick enough to be hospitalized were younger than 55.

Earlier this week, French health ministry official Jérome Salomon said half of the 300 to 400 coronavirus patients treated in intensive care units in Paris were younger than 65, and, according to numbers presented at a seminar of intensive care specialists, half the ICU patients in the Netherlands were younger than 50.

At a White House news conference on Wednesday, Deborah Birx, the response coordinator of the nation’s coronavirus task force, warned about the concerning reports from France — and Italy, too — about “young people getting seriously ill and very seriously ill in the ICUs.”

She called out younger generations in particular, for not taking the virus seriously, and warned of “disproportional number of infections among that group.”

Coronavirus looks different in kids than in adults

President Trump reinforced her warning, saying: “We don’t want them gathering, and I see they do gather, including on beaches and in restaurants, young people. They don’t realize, and they’re feeling invincible.”

The CDC report looked at 4,226 covid-19 cases, with much of the data coming from the outbreaks among older adults in assisted living facilities. As in China, the highest percentage of severe outcomes were among the elderly. About 80 percent of people who died were older than 65.

A group of young women walk past New Orleans police officers on Bourbon Street after midnight when the police department enforced a statewide shutdown of bars and restaurants ordered by Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards on Mar. 16. (Max Becherer/The Advocate via AP) (Staff Photo By Max Becherer/AP)

However, the percentage with more moderate or severe disease requiring hospitalization is more evenly distributed between the old and the young, with 53 percent of those in ICUs and 45 percent of those hospitalized age 65 and older.

“These preliminary data also demonstrate that severe illness leading to hospitalization, including ICU admission and death, can occur in adults of any age with COVID-19,” researchers wrote.

Severe outcomes among patients with covid-19.

There was more encouraging news about children in the United States. Those age 19 and younger who were tested appear to have milder illness with almost no hospitalizations. A much larger sample of children in China, as detailed in the journal Pediatrics this week, found that most children had mild to moderate illness.

The CDC report did not specify whether the younger patients had underlying conditions that might make them more vulnerable, but Anthony S. Fauci, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, commented on CNN on Wednesday night that some did.

One younger adult, a University of Utah genetics researcher, Clement Chow, has been tweeting about his experiences. “Important point: we really don’t know much about his virus. I’m young and not high risk, yet I am in the ICU with a very severe case,” he wrote. He said he was facing respiratory failure and put on oxygen.

Public health experts say it’s difficult to compare coronavirus numbers by age across countries at this stage due to the limited numbers tested and that differences may be due to the environment, lifestyle, demographics or something about the virus itself.

There may be a high percentages of young smokers in some areas of France, for example. Or “the high proportion of critically ill young people in the Netherlands may reflect the relatively younger population,” the Dutch news service NRC, surmised.

Maybe some young people who were tested happen to be in cities or industrial areas with a lot of pollution that might impact their susceptibility to serious respiratory illness. Or the bar for admission to the hospital and the quality of treatments may vary enough by country that it impacts the course of the illness.

Adolfo Garcia-Sastre, the director of Global Health and Emerging Pathogens Institute at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, said the numbers are difficult to interpret because there are so few people who have been tested. He said some populations may be overrepresented due to public health officials focusing on testing of clusters of people who live together and may be of similar ages.

However, Garcia-Sastre said, the numbers show it’s clear “everybody has risk. Even in young people there is a percentage that has serious infection.”


Read more:

Hospital workers battling coronavirus turn to bandannas, sports goggles and homemade face shields amid shortages

Spiking U.S. coronavirus cases could force rationing decisions similar to those made in Italy, China

Largest study to date suggests infants may be vulnerable to critical illness after all — and that children may play a ‘major role’ in spread of pathogen