hospitals

One in Four NYC Hospital Coronavirus Patients Is Under Age 50

Coronavirus testing site at Brooklyn Hospital Center.
Coronavirus testing site at Brooklyn Hospital Center. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

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More than a quarter of hospitalizations related to the coronavirus crisis in New York City have been for patients under the age of 50, according to data provided by City Hall officials.

But it’s people over 65 who are more likely to succumb to their illnesses, though the youngest victim so far was 45, a related set of data shows. Men comprise about two-thirds of the 63 fatalities in the city so far.

As of Friday evening, when roughly 1,160 people were hospitalized for symptoms related to the COVID-19 virus, 26% of them were between the ages of 18 and 49, according to city data. That’s more than 300 people.

At least eight patients in city hospitals at the time were under 18, city officials said.

So far, they have not provided details on how many of the hospitalized patients under 50 had underlying medical conditions, which can exacerbate the severity of the illness.

And while the majority of people admitted to city hospitals as of Friday were age 50 or above — accounting for 72% of 1,160 patients — the data underscores recent pleas by city and state officials for younger adults to not take the pandemic lightly.

“We have had young people not only infected but also have been ill,” city Department of Health and Mental Hygiene Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot said during a conference call with reporters Friday.

She noted that while the city hadn’t seen a large number of hospitalizations among younger adults, “No one, literally, is immune to this. This is a novel virus that we have never seen before and everyone is at risk for being infected.”

‘You Will Get Sick’

The data aligns with anecdotes coming out of some city hospitals, where medical staffers say they’ve noticed a significant number of younger adults ill with apparent COVID-19.

One nurse at Lenox Hill Hospital on the Upper East Side said the surprise at seeing younger adults requiring ventilators to assist their breathing in recent weeks has added to care providers’ general concern over the crisis.

That anxiety has been heightened by a projected shortage of ventilator units needed to keep the most severely ill alive.

“What we’re being asked to treat is a huge unknown, and the type of patients we were told to expect are not what we’re seeing,” said the nurse, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “Instead of only 60-plus-year-old folks with tons of comorbidities needing [ventilators], we’re seeing just as many people in their 20s and 30s needing them.”

The hospitalization rate among New York City adults under 50 was slightly lower than those suggested in national figures released by the Centers for Disease Control.

The CDC found that people under the age of 55 accounted for 38% of known hospitalizations nationally from Feb. 12 through March 16.

“Young people can get it," Gov. Andrew Cuomo warns.
“Young people can get it,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo warns. Photo: Ben Fractenberg/THE CITY

At a news conference in Albany Sunday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo admonished younger people for not taking the crisis seriously.

Statewide, people between the age of 18 to 49 represent 53% of the 15,169 confirmed positive coronavirus cases in New York , the governor said.

“Young people can get it. You will get sick, you probably won’t die, but you can transfer it to someone who may very well die. You can transfer it, even inadvertently without knowing you’re doing it,” Cuomo said.

Cuomo, who went to New York City Saturday to scout locations for additional hospital space, called packed parks full of people “wholly inappropriate.”

“You would think there was nothing going on in parts of New York City. You would think it was just a bright, sunny Saturday. I don’t know what I’m saying that people don’t get,” he said.

‘Worst is Yet to Come’

When it comes to fatalities, city data shows that 46 of the 63 coronavirus-related deaths as of Sunday were patients 65 and over.

The remaining 17 of those who died were between the ages 45 and 64. No one 44 or younger has died, according to the data. Men account for 43 of the deaths.

A disproportionate number of people — 21 — died in Queens.  That’s compared 14 each in Brooklyn and the Bronx, 10 in Manhattan and four in Staten Island.

As of Sunday morning, Brooklyn had the most coronavirus patients — 2,857 — followed by Queens (2,715), Manhattan (2,702), The Bronx (1,411) and Staten Island (593).

The city also has begun collecting information on the pre-existing conditions of the patients who died.

The preliminary data for the first 13 fatalities show that nine of the people who died had pre-existing conditions — including diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, emphysema and “multiple pre-existing” conditions.

Statewide, five people between the ages of 40 to 49 have died from the virus in New York, according to Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s top aide.

The death toll of the virus reached 114 statewide as of Sunday morning. Among 1,974 people hospitalized are 486 in intensive care units.

The crisis is threatening to overload the city and state’s medical centers because of a severe shortage in both hospital beds and intensive care beds with ventilators.

The city has just over 25,000 hospital beds and 1,414 intensive care beds, according to the State Department of Health.

Medical personnel and elected officials have also been sounding the alarm about impending shortages of protective gear for hospital workers, including surgical masks, gowns and face shields.

“We’re about 10 days away now from seeing widespread shortages of really fundamental supplies — ventilators, surgical masks — the things that are absolutely necessary to keep hospitals running,” Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN on Sunday.

He warned that the city’s spiraling numbers — 9,654 positive cases and 63 fatalities as of Sunday morning — are only likely to grow.

“The worst is yet to come,” he told CNN. “I hate saying it, but it’s true.”

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