87ºF

Why young, healthy patients aren’t dying from COVID-19 but getting sick more than other age groups

HOUSTON – The National Institutes of Health has some bad news for the young, healthy age group we thought was safe from coronavirus.

They find growing evidence the virus can cause severe strokes in patients who otherwise have no medical history. Some patients they looked at only had mild symptoms of the virus, while others didn’t even know they had it.

This is unusual since this age group rarely suffers from a stroke, especially without underlying conditions.

Details from Harris County and the City of Houston show people in their thirties have the highest numbers of cases, followed closely by people in their forties.

Shane Magee, MD, from Kelsey-Seybold said they’re likely diagnosed more frequently because that’s the age group still in the workforce. They’re not staying home from school, they’ve got to get groceries for themselves and older love ones and being out is putting them at greater risk to catch the illness.

Plus, there's a misconception that young people bought into early that's putting them at greater risk.

“The idea that ‘Oh, well it’s kind of like the flu, I’m not likely to die, it’s going be like the flu for me.’ Which, early data shows that for somebody who’s 30 and 40, the mortality rate was close to the flu, closer than it is in the 80-year-old group but that kind of hides the fact that even though the mortality rate may be low, they still get quite sick in the hospital,” Magee said.

So, while getting coronavirus may not mean life or death for this age group, it could determine their quality of life.

Up until now, people have been advised to only call for an ambulance with shortness of breath or high fever due to coronavirus but that doesn't mean you should ignore other health emergencies.

Call an ambulance if you feel the following symptoms: facial drooping, arm weakness or difficulty speaking.

More coronavirus coverage

Find cases by zip code: Harris County heat map shows coronavirus cases by ZIP code

Cases by county: A breakdown of how many coronavirus cases there are by county in the Houston area

• Answering your questions: We’ve got answers to dozens and dozens of your health and financial coronavirus questions

• Haley’s Health Inbox: KPRC 2 reporter Haley Hernandez answers questions readers are sending her every day

• Coronavirus charts: Who is getting coronavirus in the Houston area? We’ve crunched the data in these charts

• Follow the curve: This chart shows you the curve for Houston cases since March 15

• When it will peak: This is when each state is expected to peak in deaths from coronavirus

• Interactive map: This is what the coronavirus spread looks like right now across the world right now

• Support Local: Find all the ways you can help local businesses in Houston

• Get newsletters: Sign up for a daily newsletter on coronavirus news and Haley Hernandez’s health inbox newsletter