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CDC: 80 percent of US coronavirus deaths are people 65 and older

Eighty percent of deaths associated with the coronavirus in the United States were in adults aged 65 and older, according to an analysis released Wednesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

“The risk for serious disease and death in COVID-19 cases among persons in the United States increases with age,” the CDC said. “Social distancing is recommended for all ages to slow the spread of the virus, protect the health care system, and help protect vulnerable older adults.”

The analysis looked at 44 cases from Feb. 12 through March 16 and found that 34 percent of deaths were reported among adults aged 85 and older. Forty-six percent of deaths were reported among those aged 65 to 84. Adults between the ages of 20 and 64 made up 20 percent of the deaths.

Public health officials and experts have warned for weeks that the elderly are at the highest risk of dying from the coronavirus. The analysis lined up with data released by China, which showed 80 percent of deaths there were in adults aged 60 and older.

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Elderly people are likely at higher risk because immune systems weaken with age. Older adults are also more likely to have underlying health conditions that exacerbate illness.

The data analyzed by the CDC did not include information on the underlying health conditions of patients.

The CDC recommends that older adults stay home as much as possible and stock at least 30 days of groceries. Those in that age group who do go out should keep space between themselves and others, stay away from people who are sick, and avoid crowds and cruise and air travel.

State and local governments have issued bans on large gatherings of people and implemented other social distancing measures to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

While younger people are less likely to die of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, experts have urged them to follow social distancing measures to prevent spreading the virus to vulnerable populations.

Young adults with the coronavirus might experience no symptoms, or mild symptoms, meaning they might be unaware they are spreading the disease.

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“We cannot have these large gatherings that continue to occur throughout the country for people who are off work, to then be socializing in large groups and spreading the virus,” Dr. Deborah Birx, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, said at a briefing Wednesday.

“You have the potential then to spread it to someone who does have a condition that none of us knew about and cause them to have a disastrous outcome,” she added.

She also warned Wednesday that early reports out of Italy and France indicate millennials are becoming seriously ill in those countries.