Up to eight in every 10 coronavirus-related deaths in the U.S. have involved adults ages 65 years and older, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said this week, with up to 70 percent of patients requiring hospitalization falling into the age range of 85 years and older.
Health officials have long warned that the elderly, those with underlying health issues and patients who are immunocompromised are most at risk for developing complications from COVID-19, and based on data compiled between Feb. 12 and March 16, the rate of hospitalizations, ICU admissions and deaths from the virus support those claims.
Of the patients requiring ICU care due to COVID-19, the CDC found that up to 29 percent involved adults 85 years or older, and 31 percent involved adults between the ages of 65 and 84. Between 10 and 27 percent of adults who died after contracting the virus were 85 or older, while between 4 and 11 percent of adults were between 65 and 84 years old.
“Older people are at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19 which may result in increased stress during a crisis,” the health agency warned.
As of Thursday afternoon, the illness was confirmed in more than 10,750 people in the U.S. and had resulted in at least 154 deaths.
Nursing home facilities and other care homes have been on high alert since an outbreak in Washington state put elderly residents at risk and resulted in at least 30 deaths. Federal health officials have since said that staff members who worked while sick at multiple long-term care facilities in the area contributed to the widespread outbreak, which mostly hit Life Care Center in Kirkland.
Facilities across the U.S. have since shut doors to visitors and canceled group activities, or have resorted to keeping residents in their rooms in order to stave off any spread of infection as a result of newly issued government guidelines.
“We know that there is a risk that people who appear healthy will enter nursing homes and assisted living communities and still infect residents,” Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive at the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, said last week.
Still, concerned family members are urged to keep loved ones in the assisted living facilities or nursing homes they are in rather than attempt to temporarily move them to another location.
“Moving an older adult from a long-term care center is risky and could have long-lasting impacts,” David Gifford, chief medical officer of the American Health Care Association and the National Center for Assisted Living, told AARP.
Federal officials urge everyone to wash their hands using soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after having visited a public place, or use hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol, and to avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth.
It is also advised to avoid close contact with people who are sick and to put distance between yourself and others if COVID-19 has begun spreading in your community. Those who are sick are urged to stay home, and to cover their mouth and nose when sneezing and coughing, as well as to wear a face mask if they are ill.