July 11, 2020 / 5:18 AM / a month ago

Among those under age 65, COVID-19 takes greater toll on nonwhite Americans -CDC

A pedestrian is reflected in the window of an empty storefront, in a city hard hit by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Chelsea, Massachusetts, U.S., July 9, 2020. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

(Reuters) - Coronavirus deaths among Americans ages 65 and younger are more common among nonwhites than among whites, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported in a publication released on Friday.

Overall, 34.9% of Hispanic patients who died were younger than 65, while 29.5% of nonwhites who died were under 65, compared to only 13.2% of white, non-Hispanic decedents.

Researchers analyzed 10,647 COVID-19 deaths between Feb. 12 and April 24 from 16 public health departments in 15 states. Most of the deaths were in New York City, New Jersey and Washington state - three areas hit by the pandemic early on.

Most of those who died were older than 65 years and had underlying medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease or diabetes, according to the report in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

The percentages of Hispanic and nonwhite people under age 65 who died of COVID-19 were greater than their share of the U.S. population, the report said.

While underlying medical conditions are known to be risk factors in coronavirus-related deaths, researchers were not able to assess how race or ethnicity contributed. The researchers noted that more Hispanic and nonwhite people work in occupations or essential activities that do not allow physical distancing.

In June, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services asked here laboratories to report a patient's age and ethnicity along with COVID-19 test results, to better understand why the respiratory illness affects certain demographics more severely.

While further studies are needed, the researchers said understanding factors contributing to mortality differences may help improve communication to encourage at-risk groups to promptly seek care if they fall ill.

Reporting by Vishwadha Chander in Bengaluru; Editing by Nancy Lapid and Leslie Adler

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