Most NYC Virus Deaths Were Among People With Other Health Ills

(Bloomberg) -- Ninety-five percent of New York City’s almost 200 deaths from the new coronavirus had underlying health conditions, though almost half were under the age of 75, according to data published by the city’s health department on Tuesday.

The deaths, as well as data on cases and hospitalizations, mimic the patterns found in other cities with major outbreaks. New York City had more than 15,000 Covid-19 cases as of 5 p.m. Tuesday, the largest outbreak in the U.S.

Deaths are likely to rise substantially as some newly diagnosed patients get worse, though most will recover. The city has set up surge capacity to deal with an expected sharp rise in patients.

While much of the concern about the virus has focused on the elderly, New York City’s data show a significant number of people hospitalized are in slightly younger groups. Twenty percent of diagnosed patients ages 45-64 have been hospitalized, as have 33% of patients ages 65-74. At age 75 and older, half of the diagnosed patients have been hospitalized.

Age GroupHospitalized (rate)All Cases
0-1728 (7%)384
18-44629 (9%)7,094
45-641,061 (20%)5,194
65-74550 (33%)1,689
75+615 (50%)1,227

Some of the underlying conditions are common, such as diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure and heart disease. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 9.4% of Americans had diabetes as of 2015. About half of all adults had some degree of high blood pressure, according to a separate CDC report.

The data line up with places like Italy, where 99% of patients who died in that country’s large, ongoing outbreak had some form of underlying health condition.

In the four days that ended March 24, the city has been reporting more than 2,000 new cases every day. Because of limits on testing, many of those are likely patients who are sick enough that they are coming to the hospital, which could skew the profile of the patients and undercount milder cases.

The city’s health department indicated that it will be updating the data regularly.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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