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Published on August 24, 2020

Age and Race Among COVID-19

Age and Race Among COVID-19

Jay Wyatt, MD, chief medical officer of Moses Cone Hospital, answers questions on COVID-19, age and race in this week's 2 Your Well-Being discussion with WFMY News 2.

Is anyone immune to COVID-19, or are there groups that don't need to worry?

“There is no one who has innate immunity to COVID. Now there are people who may have been exposed and have contracted it that may have some immunity, but we have not been able to isolate those people out specifically and show that that immunity either is complete or lasts forever.”

“I do think that there are people trying to assume that they are immune because they may have had something before - that is not the case. I think our children are not immune to COVID - they just don't have the same immune system, and they do not show the same response as adults.”

What do we need to know when it comes to age and COVID-19?

“So the incidence seems to be higher in the older population, particularly people over 50 years old. However, the reason we may not be noting the younger generation in the incidence there, in the prevalence, is because they don't necessarily show symptoms the same way, and also they may not be getting tested as much. As you saw in some of the recent regional college outbreaks, when you started to test a lot of those kids, they did show up being COVID positive. So I think some of the differences are in the group that show symptoms earlier and those that do not.”

Are younger people not at as much risk for complications from COVID-19 as older people?

“I think the biggest difference is that they don't show as severe symptoms and so they may not get tested as readily. I don't think that their chance of getting it is that much less, I just think they don't show symptoms. So when they do contract it or may be exposed, they may go for a significant period of time with minimal symptoms.”

How does race figure into COVID-19?

“So, again, I think we're starting to see larger numbers in the Black community and the Latin community, the Latinx community, because we're starting to test a lot more. Because there are significant medical comorbidities in some of these groups, we tend to be affected more severely a lot of times, when they have lung disease or maybe heart disease. So I do think we are seeing a larger number. What we see is about 30 to 33% of the Black population in our area has been COVID positive in terms of the overall number of people that are positive, and about 25% of the Latinx community relative to the total group, but that's much higher than their prevalence in the population. So sort of a higher incidence of COVID than there are number of people in the population.”

How do we go about combating that for the Black community and for the Latinx community?

“I think they need to follow the same rules that everyone else is, and they are, but somehow try to get them in to see people sooner when they start to have symptoms. You see, a lot of people are sort of attributing their symptoms to things like asthma, or they have an allergy and it's seasonal. But really, a lot of these people turn out to have COVID and they're not seeing people early enough to get tested, and the only way we're going to sort of curtail more spread is to test early and then isolate as much as possible.”

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