Karen Zimmerman, 74, died on April 14, 2020 at Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis. Two of her four children were by her side.
Bobby Rutledge, 77, died April 1, 2020; Robert Rykken, 83, died May 8, 2020; Merle and Delores Tofte, 87 & 85, died March 16, 2020.
All Oregonians, all died from COVID-19, all older adults.
They fit a pattern.
People 65 years old or older account for 80% of COVID-19-related deaths in the United States to date, according to the CDC. It’s not just their age that’s relevant. Older people are more likely have underlying health conditions, such as cardiovascular disease, lung conditions, diabetes and cancer. These complications, not just age, dictate the mortality of older adults.
The mortality of COVID-19 patients is just 0.3% for patients in their 40s, according to research by Imperial College London published in Lancet Infectious Diseases. Mortality rose to 1.25% of those in their 50s, 4% of those in their 60s, 8.6%, of those in their 70s and 13.4% of patients 80 and older.
“These early estimates give an indication of the fatality ratio across the spectrum of COVID-19 disease and show a strong age gradient in risk of death,” the research concluded.
Not only are older adults more at risk, but as treatments have improved fewer young people are dying. In late March, Americans over age 75 made up about half of all weekly deaths while Americans under 45 made up between 4-5%, according to the CDC. People over 75 now make up about two-thirds of deaths while those younger than 45 make up less than 2%.
With these kinds of numbers, it only makes sense that when a successful vaccine is developed it shouldn’t be given away willy-nilly or first come-first served. It should be given first to those most at risk, older adults. I’m 76, so that includes me and my older folks cohort. Right?