SAN FRANCISCO - The belief that only the elderly are affected by COVID-19 is being debunked by facts.
In San Francisco, the average age of people needing to be hospitalized after being stricken with the virus is getting younger.
“At Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital the average age of a person hospitalized with COVID-19 since July 1st, has been 41 years,” said San Francisco’s Director of Health.
During the beginning of the pandemic, doctors say many patients needing hospitalization were 70 and older.
Data from the San Francisco Department of Health shows hospitalizations have been steadily increasing in the last month.
Half of all positive cases are now falling between the ages 18 and 40.
“I think it’s probably a common theme right now in our county and probably in our state as well,” said UCSF Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong.
Healthcare professionals say the patients are believed to be a mix of essential workers, and young people who’ve been out recreationally.
A 28-year-old healthcare worker told KTVU she thought the average hospitalization age would be above 50, and believes the fact that it’s much younger may help dispel the myth that COVID-19 is an old person's disease.
“I hope it does. I think so. In the circles that I’m in I’ve noticed that younger people, like younger millennials and I’d say Gen-Z, seem to be far more concerned. There seems to be a lot of spread through social media about keeping each other safe,” said Madelyn Peterson, a student midwife.
The risk of dying from the virus is still greatest for people older than 60.
Though the survival rate is higher for younger people, if hospitalization is necessary, the illness can be severe and long-lasting.
“Everybody, young or old with COVID-19 ends up staying a while in the hospital. And we're learning more and more about the chronic effects of COVID after the fact, even after you're done with COVID,” said Dr. Chin-Hong.
Some of those chronic effects include memory loss, brain fog, gastrointestinal problems, and compromised lungs.
So, even though you may survive COVID-19, it doesn’t mean you’ll get away unscathed.