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July 13, 2020 -- Coronavirus-related deaths tend to be higher in people with underlying medical conditions and those over age 65, according to a new report released Friday by the CDC COVID-19 Response Team.

At the same time, more than a third of Hispanics and nearly a third of non-white people who died were under age 65, as compared with about 13% of white people. In addition, the median age of people who died was 71 among Hispanics, 72 among non-whites and 81 among whites, according to the report.

“Understanding factors contributing to racial/ethnic mortality differences … might inform targeted communication to encourage persons in at-risk groups to practice preventive measures and promptly seek medical care if they become ill,” the CDC team wrote.

The research team analyzed data for more than 52,000 COVID-19 deaths that had laboratory confirmed infections and were reported to the CDC between mid-February and mid-May. About 60% were male and 80% were over age 65.

For more detailed information, they then studied medical charts and death certificates for 10,600 people from 16 state public health departments across the country, including the three areas with early widespread circulation of the coronavirus: New York, New Jersey and Washington.

According to the records, more than 8,000 people — about 78% – had an underlying medical condition. The most common were heart disease, diabetes, kidney disease and lung disease. Over age 65, 83% of those who died had at least one underlying medical condition, though diabetes was more common among those under age 65.

About 3,000 records had detailed timelines, which showed that the average time between the onset of illness and death was 10 days. The average time from hospital admission to death was five days.

For those under age 65, about 8% died at home or in an emergency department. This could indicate a lack of health care access, diagnostic testing delays or a delay in seeking care, according to the report.

“Health care providers should be encouraged to consider the possibility of severe disease among younger persons who are Hispanic, nonwhite or have underlying medical conditions,” the research team wrote.

WebMD Health News Brief

Sources

CDC, “Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Characteristics of Persons Who Died with COVID-19 — United States, February 12-May 18, 2020FDA, “FDA Issues Emergency Use Authorization for Potential COVID-19 Treatment.”

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