Health Care

120 young people died of coronavirus in six months, most were people of color

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More than 120 people age 21 and younger died of COVID-19 between February and July, according to a new report released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Most had underlying health conditions or were people of color, the report said

Most of the deaths occurred in people between the ages of 14 and 20, according to the report; nearly half of all deaths in that age group were among people ages 18-20. 

That could indicate that teenagers and young adults are more likely to die of COVID-19 than younger children, though both groups are overall far less likely to die than older adults.

Seventy-five percent of those who died had at least one underlying health condition, including chronic lung disease, obesity, neurologic and developmental illnesses, cardiovascular disease, cancer, diabetes or other illnesses. Sixty-three percent of deaths occurred in males. While Hispanic, Black and American Indians or Alaskan Natives people younger than 21 years make up 41 percent of the U.S. population, they accounted for 75 percent of the deaths in that age group, according to the CDC.

The authors report note that people of color are more likely to be essential workers who are unable to work from home, resulting in a higher risk for exposure to COVID-19, with potential transmission to people living in their homes, including children and young adults. 

Social determinants of health, including crowded living conditions, food and housing insecurity, wealth and educational gaps and racial discrimination, likely also contribute to racial and ethnic disparities in COVID-19 deaths, the authors wrote. 

The higher rate of death among children and young adults of color is likely also due to challenges getting access to health care because of lack of insurance, child care, transportation or paid sick leave, the report states.  

Thirty-nine of the deaths occurred at home or in the emergency department, potentially suggesting that people are delaying or deferring care during the pandemic. 

“Persons infected with or exposed to SARS-CoV-2 should be followed closely so that clinical deterioration can be detected early,” the authors wrote.


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