Characteristics of Persons Who Died With COVID-19

Wortham, et al. (2020) provide an analysis of supplementary data for 10,647 decedents in 16 public health jurisdictions and found that a majority were aged ≥65 years and most had underlying medical conditions. Overall, 34.9% of Hispanic and 29.5% of nonwhite decedents were aged <65 years, compared with 13.2% of white, non-Hispanic decedents. Among decedents aged <65 years, a total of 7.8% died in an emergency department or at home.

As the researchers report, "Using national case-based surveillance and supplementary data reported from 16 jurisdictions, characteristics of >10,000 decedents with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 were described. More than one third of Hispanic decedents (34.9%) and nearly one third (29.5%) of nonwhite decedents were aged <65 years, but only 13.2% of white decedents were aged <65 years. Consistent with reports describing the characteristics of deaths in persons with COVID-19 in the United States and China (2–5), approximately three fourths of decedents had one or more underlying medical conditions reported (76.4%) or were aged ≥65 years (74.8%). Among reported underlying medical conditions, cardiovascular disease and diabetes were the most common. Diabetes prevalence among decedents aged <65 years (49.6%) was substantially higher than that reported in an analysis of hospitalized COVID-19 patients aged <65 years (35%) and persons aged <65 years in the general population (<20%) (5–7). Among decedents aged <65 years, 7.8% died in an emergency department or at home; these out-of-hospital deaths might reflect lack of healthcare access, delays in seeking care, or diagnostic delays. Health communications campaigns could encourage patients, particularly those with underlying medical conditions, to seek medical care earlier in their illnesses. Additionally, healthcare providers should be encouraged to consider the possibility of severe disease among younger persons who are Hispanic, nonwhite, or have underlying medical conditions. More prompt diagnoses could facilitate earlier implementation of supportive care to minimize morbidity among individuals and earlier isolation of contagious persons to protect communities from SARS-CoV-2 transmission."

Reference: Wortham JM, et al. Characteristics of Persons Who Died with COVID-19 — United States, February 12–May 18, 2020. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. No 69. July 10, 2020.

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