More hospitalizations among young people with COVID-19 in April

Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston. Central Maine Medical Center photo

State health officials in recent weeks have expressed concern over the rising number of young people hospitalized with COVID-19 and who require longer term, more intensive care.

Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Nirav Shah said at a media briefing Wednesday that 45% of all new COVID-19 cases since April 1 are individuals under the age of 30.

“This is the group experiencing a high number of new cases (and) also increasingly finding themselves in the hospital,” Shah said.

He added that an executive from one of Maine’s hospital networks told him in the past week that over a recent three-week period, all but one of the patients hospitalized with COVID-19 were unvaccinated and that the one vaccinated person had a number of preexisting conditions.

These individuals were “trending much, much younger and finding themselves in the hospital for a longer period of time because they were really sick,” Shah said.

Statewide data from the Maine CDC of hospitalizations by age cohort shows that the average age of individuals hospitalized with COVID-19 has remained relatively consistent over time, from the mid-60s to upper-60s.

But from March to April, the number of individuals in their 50s and younger requiring hospitalization increased. Hospitalizations among people in their 20s in April were also at their highest levels since the pandemic began over a year ago with six hospitalizations, an increase of four since March.

The data was last updated May 9.

Of the 166 hospitalizations recorded in April, 37 people were in their 60s, an increase of one since March. But those in their 40s and 50s saw the largest increase from the month prior than any other age group.

In April, there were 19 people in their 40s hospitalized with COVID-19, an increase of nine from March and of those in their 50s, there were seven more hospitalizations in April than in March, for a total of 31.

The average age of hospitalized patients in April was 63. In March it was 66.

It is not clear from the available data if the rising number of hospitalizations among young people is concentrated in certain areas of the state.

“We have thankfully seen a decline in hospital admissions for COVID-19 over the past week, although we remain very concerned at the continued trend of younger patients who require intensive care level of treatment,” Dr. John Alexander, chief medical officer at Central Maine Healthcare, said in a statement Wednesday.

There were 15 in-patients with confirmed COVID-19 at Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston as of Thursday, according to data that the Maine CDC collects daily from hospitals. Six of those patients were in the intensive care unit and another three were on a ventilator.

St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center reported four patients, none of whom were in critical care or on a ventilator.

“I can’t emphasize the importance of vaccination to everyone who is able to receive the vaccine, and continued vigilance with mask wearing and social distancing for those who are not,” Alexander said.

State health officials Thursday reported 219 new cases of COVID-19, including 34 in Androscoggin County, 10 in Oxford County and six in Franklin County.

There was a total of 104 hospitalizations statewide. Thirty eight patients were listed in critical care and 20 on a ventilator.

The state also reported nine additional deaths Thursday, eight of which occurred between April 30 and May 9.

“Eight of the nine additional deaths reported today result from review of recently filed death certificates,” said Maine CDC spokesman Robert Long in a statement.

Five of the deaths were individuals from Androscoggin County. Two were from Penobscot County and there was one individual each from Hancock and York counties.

Six of the deaths were women and three were men. They ranged in age from their 50s to 80-plus.

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