Health experts say 40% of COVID-19 patients hospitalized are 20 to 54 years old

Posted at 6:45 AM, Mar 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-26 07:52:09-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — While health experts say people 60-years-old and up and those who are immunocompromised are most at risk for serious COVID-19 complications, it doesn’t mean young people are not at risk.

Doctors think the risk of dying from COVID-19 is lower for young healthy people, but they're discovering more serious complications. More than 75% of Davidson County cases are people 18 to 49 years old.

Governor Bill Lee made it a point Tuesday to ask young people to take the coronavirus seriously.

The Centers for Disease Control says more young people are getting seriously sick than they initially anticipated. Their reports show almost 40 percent of cases of people hospitalized are between 20 and 54 years old.

In some of the hardest hit areas in the world, France and Italy, young people have been in intensive care units with complications from COVID-19. Medical professionals are still learning about the virus from Europe and China.

"Until we have widespread testing available, we're just not gonna know, and so we're always gonna be guessing, you know, who's more at risk, what population is in danger," Centura Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Steve Cobb said, "but what we know for sure is this young, healthy population who I think can be at risk for thinking they're not vulnerable, is absolutely at risk for contracting this virus, getting severe invasive disease and dying."

Just like everyone else, young people need to follow the guidelines of social distancing and trying to stay at home as much as possible to help slow the spread and avoid contracting the virus.


See all our coronavirus coverage here


What is COVID-19 (a.k.a. the new coronavirus?)

According to the World Health Organization, coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases. Examples include the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. COVID-19 stands for "Coronavirus disease 2019," which is when this strain of the coronavirus was discovered.

What are the symptoms?

The CDC says patients confirmed to have the 2019-nCoV reportedly had mild to severe respiratory illness with:

  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

Or at least two of the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Repeated shaking with chills
  • Muscle pain
  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • New loss of taste or smell

At this time, the CDC believes symptoms could appear as soon as two days after exposure, or as long as 14 days.


The CDC is recommending "common sense" measures such as:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a cloth face cover when around others.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.