Dr. Peter Hotez: New data shows why young people must take COVID-19 spread seriously

While it has been widely reported that older people are the most vulnerable to the coronavirus outbreak, more young adults than expected will be hospitalized due to the virus, Dr. Peter Hotez said on Thursday.

“We’re still early in this epidemic — up to around 10,000 cases in the United States but, so far, unfortunately, that’s a pattern that we’re seeing: lots of young adults.

"It looks like a third of the hospitalized patients are 20-44 years of age,” the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine told “America’s Newsroom.”

The fatality rates for people aged 20-54 are 1 percent and lower. However, Hotez responded that it is unknown whether the low fatality rate among younger people is due to being able to survive on ventilators and intensive care.

“If that’s the case, that’s still a horrible ordeal for young adults.”

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It has been widely reported that the elderly population is at greater risk than the younger population when it comes to the coronavirus, but a report Wednesday suggested that millennials would do well to take the virus seriously.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a new study stating that about 38 percent of the 508 patients being hospitalized in the country are between 20 and 54 years old, The New York Times reported. About 20 percent of patients, including those in intensive care, were between 20 and 44, the report said.

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The paper's authors spoke to a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University who said those 20 and older "have to be careful, even if they think that they’re young and healthy."

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Hotez said that young people and college students must realize their health is at risk.

“The message is that we’ve been trying to appeal to younger adults and have them shelter away and do the social distancing and explaining why they’re at risk for transmitting the virus to vulnerable populations.

“Now it’s a direct message — your health is directly at risk. Now is the time to do that social distancing so we’re still seeing the panoramic views of Miami Beach and spring break so we’ve got to really hold that down to protect our health.”

Fox News' Yael  Hanlon and The Associated Press contributed to this report