COVID-19 has been particularly deadly to older people, but the virus hasn’t limited its lethal reach to the senior set.
On Saturday, the death of a Spotsylvania County Black woman in her 50s was reported by the Virginia Department of Health. She was the 80th fatality from COVID-19 in the Rappahannock Area Health District.
The majority of local deaths—71 of 80—have come to residents 60 and older. But six of those who died were in their 50s and three, in their 40s.
As the global pandemic continues into its seventh month, local cases of the respiratory disease have been reported among as many children under 9 as people age 80 and beyond (244 to 242). More people in their 20s have had confirmed cases of the virus than any other category. The 1,148 people in that age group represent one of every five cases in Fredericksburg and the counties of Caroline, King George, Spotsylvania and Stafford.
In terms of those who need more serious care after testing positive, those in the oldest category, age 80 and beyond, lead hospitalizations with 87 people.
But the second-highest number of people who have been hospitalized are considerably younger. State data shows that 75 of the 421 people hospitalized since March have been in their 50s.
“Risk for severe illness due to COVID-19 increases with age,” said Allison Balmes–John, spokesperson for the local health district, but “the risk of severe illness is not limited” to the oldest age group.
She reaffirmed data presented recently from the Virginia Hospital & Healthcare Association, that those hospitalized for COVID-19 often have other conditions. Data from hospitals across the state between April and June showed that high blood pressure, high cholesterol and chronic kidney disease were the top three chronic conditions for patients who also were being treated for the virus.
Cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a compromised immune system after an organ transplant, obesity, sickle cell disease, smoking and Type 2 diabetes are other common issues, Balmes–John said.
“People of all ages with these medical conditions, and those who live with or spend time with people with these medical conditions, should exercise caution to protect themselves from becoming sick,” she said.
She stressed the need to limit face-to-face contact with those outside their households and the oft-repeated advice of wearing masks, social distancing and frequent hand washing or use of hand sanitizers.
Meanwhile, after the end of the work week brought high numbers of new cases—60 on Thursday and 40 on Friday—the number of new cases over the weekend slowed considerably. The state reported 18 new cases for the district on Saturday and eight on Sunday, but numbers may be artificially low because of weekend reporting lags.
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425
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