All adults are vulnerable to COVID-19

The other day I urged you to take COVID-19 seriously.  But in that post, I said that if you were younger than 60 or didn’t have health problems, the virus probably wouldn’t do anything to you.  In retrospect, that was misleading.

A lot of people are saying that we should reopen the economy for people “not vulnerable” to the virus.  The thing is, all adults are vulnerable.  We’ve all fixated too much on the fatality rate.  We also need to look at the hospitalization rate, as well as the ICU rate.  This report from the CDC has that information.

What I want to call your attention to, is this chart from the report:

Bar chart showing high hospitalization rates for all adults
Image credit: US CDC (click through for original)

You can see it in terms of percentage of cases in a table format here.  The TL;DR is that if you’re an adult and get the virus, you have a 20% chance or higher of ending up in the hospital.

Young adults are far less likely to die from the virus, if they have good care.  But being in the ICU is nothing to be blasé about.  And if the virus is allowed to run rampant among the “non-vulnerable” and the health systems become overrun, good care may not be available.

Keep this in mind when considering the calls currently being made by politicians and business people to let up on the social distancing and shelter in place policies.  There’s a reason health professionals are opposed to those calls.

I get that the economic situation is agonizing.  But it’s not like the economy would be robust with an overrun health system.

11 thoughts on “All adults are vulnerable to COVID-19

    1. Too true. It sounds like some portion of people who don’t die are coming away with possibly permanent health problems, such as heart or lung damage. 80% get away with mild symptoms, but a one in five chance of a life altering disease is not a dice roll most people want to make.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The problem is we’re not good at understanding exponential growth, and we’re not good at realizing we’re not good at it. There are 41,000 cases in the US today. There were 23,000 two days ago. At that rate, there will be 160,000 by the end of the week and, unless the effects of social distancing start showing up, around a million a week later.


      1. Exponential growth is easy enough to understand when it comes to, say, computing times as a function of data-set size. But when you’re talking about people dying, suddenly the mind boggles.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. Totally agree. My family and I are isolating ourselves from other people. Since my son came home early from university a week ago we have not been out and won’t do unless we have no choice. China and South Korea appear to have largely beaten this disease without a vaccine, and if we implement strict social distancing, we can too. That’s the quickest way to get the economy running again.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m in the same boat. I haven’t gone anywhere in a week, except to the mail box. Eventually I’ll have to go out for groceries, although even most of those I’m having delivered.

      One thing we can be grateful for, that we have the internet. If I were stuck home without it, it seems like it would be much worse.


      1. I’m with you on that one, SAP.
        Now I rarely go out, except for groceries.
        I have internet, books, a bunch of movies, and I order out a lot ( where I live, it’s pretty cheap ).
        The odds of me getting bored are very low.

        Liked by 1 person

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