COVID-19 has been sending many more working-age people to the hospital this month, not just giving them a head cold.
The hospitalization rate for U.S. residents of all ages is about 60% higher than it was during the last hospitalization surge, which lasted from Aug. 10 through Sept. 10.
U.S. COVID-19 patients ages 20 through 59 are doing better than older patients, but they are facing their own, smaller hospitalization surge.
The pandemic put 51,947 people in the 20-59 age group in U.S. hospitals in the week ending Jan. 7.
The COVID-19 hospitalization rate for working-age people is now about 34% higher than it was during the August-September surge
That surge led to a 40% increase in the death rate for working-age people.
The Mortality Context
Because of data reporting lags, only incomplete death rate numbers are available for the period after Dec. 18. The latest preliminary numbers, from the federal government’s Community Profile Report, show that the total number of U.S. COVID-19 deaths increased to 11,432, up 40% from the number the week before.
During the September COVID-19 mortality surge, the number of pandemic-related deaths in the peak week was 13,476.
In June and July, only about 3,100 people were dying from COVID-19 each week.
What It All Means
Life insurers have been watching data on working-age hospitalization rates and mortality closely, because younger, working-age insureds are especially likely to have the kinds of term life insurance policies and protection-oriented universal life policies that maximize the amount of death benefits per premium dollar.
High COVID-19 hospitalization rates may lead to at least three types of life insurance claim concerns:
• Deaths caused by COVID-19 itself. Today, federal pandemic trackers are reporting about 1 pandemic-related death for every 12 pandemic-related hospitalization, based on data for people of all ages.
• Deaths caused by the effects of pandemic-related crowding on all patients’ access to care.
• Post-recovery after effects, which could complicate underwriting and increase claims in the future.
The Data Details
The government has put the new COVID-19 hospitalization numbers in its latest hospital pandemic impact report.
The hospital capacity trackers use different age group breakdowns than the teams that produce some other government pandemic tracking reports, such as the Community Profile Report series.
At the state level, the number of new COVID-19 hospitalizations of people ages 20 through 59, per 100,000 people in that age group, for the week ending Jan. 7, ranged from eight in Alaska up to more than 50 in one East Coast state.
The median was about 27.
For a look at the five states with the worst working-age hospitalization rates, see the gallery above.
For data for all 50 states and the District of Columbia, see the chart below.
COVID-19 Hospitalizations for U.S. Residents Ages 20 through 59
|Hospitalizations (week ending Jan. 7)||Population, Ages 20-59||Hospitalizations per 100,00 Working-Age Residents|
|District of Columbia||208||435,821||47.7|
Pictured: A nurse checks on a COVID-19 patient in the intensive care unit at St. Claire Regional Medical Center in Morehead, Kentucky. (Photo: Jon Cherry/Bloomberg)