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COVID-19 Hospitalizations Are Soaring for Working-Age People, Too

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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.

The States

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
Alabama 671 2,515,563 26.7
Alaska 32 397,988 8.0
Arizona 1,004 3,697,423 27.2
Arkansas 387 1,527,021 25.3
California 4,558 21,470,853 21.2
Colorado 1,031 3,160,317 32.6
Connecticut 695 1,859,973 37.4
Delaware 269 487,531 55.2
District of Columbia 208 435,821 47.7
Florida 4,515 10,856,980 41.6
Georgia 2,112 5,682,654 37.2
Hawaii 93 728,153 12.8
Idaho 110 891,403 12.3
Illinois 2,279 6,679,598 34.1
Indiana 1,272 3,464,990 36.7
Iowa 432 1,580,919 27.3
Kansas 371 1,472,863 25.2
Kentucky 738 2,306,889 32.0
Louisiana 776 2,408,183 32.2
Maine 95 672,146 14.1
Maryland 1,458 3,209,732 45.4
Massachusetts 979 3,712,711 26.4
Michigan 1,528 5,122,382 29.8
Minnesota 533 2,908,448 18.3
Mississippi 450 1,520,372 29.6
Missouri 1,007 3,143,813 32.0
Montana 117 530,885 22.0
Nebraska 156 973,425 16.0
Nevada 474 1,638,374 28.9
New Hampshire 127 710,740 17.9
New Jersey 2,141 4,674,121 45.8
New Mexico 189 1,052,120 18.0
New York 4,339 10,388,109 41.8
North Carolina 1,352 5,485,722 24.6
North Dakota 71 394,614 18.0
Ohio 2,672 5,959,453 44.8
Oklahoma 748 2,022,599 37.0
Oregon 195 2,213,940 8.8
Pennsylvania 1,986 6,535,899 30.4
Rhode Island 145 560,712 25.9
South Carolina 773 2,624,684 29.5
South Dakota 107 433,512 24.7
Tennessee 869 3,573,812 24.3
Texas 4,579 15,497,670 29.5
Utah 293 1,663,849 17.6
Vermont 45 316,701 14.2
Virginia 1,259 4,559,143 27.6
Washington 615 4,093,684 15.0
West Virginia 254 892,964 28.4
Wisconsin 802 2,982,318 26.9
Wyoming 36 290,922 12.4
 TOTAL 51,947 171,984,698 -
 MEDIAN - - 27.2

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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)