Coronavirus Chronicles — The Youngification of COVID-19

Let’s recall one of the mid-April 2021 headlines: “More young people are getting hospitalized as Covid variants spread.” Even back then, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, Director of the Centers for Disease Control, was saying that more young adults were showing up in hospitals, due to the increasingly contagious variants. They were also the last group prioritized to receive vaccines and, no disrespect intended, it’s a high-risk demographic that likes to play contact sports and congregate in nightspots. As for adolescents,

In Michigan, where Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are rapidly increasing, case rates are at an all-time high for those age 19 and younger, according to state data published April 6.

As the month progressed, the state’s hospitals reported filling up with middle-aged (not geriatric) adults, and with grownups even younger, who, as Childhood Obesity News has pointed out, are the grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, guardians, caregivers, teachers, spiritual counselors, coaches, and role models of children. Reporters Mitch Smith and Sarah Mervosh wrote:

Michigan hospitals are now admitting about twice as many coronavirus patients in their 30s and 40s as they were during the fall peak… Younger patients are coming in more often with serious cases of Covid-19.

Within days, the Chicago Medical Society’s COVID-19 task force announced the increasing hospitalization of “people in their 30s, 40s and 50s — young people who are really sick.” Nationwide, adults under 50 poured into emergency rooms and filled up Intensive Care units. Journalist Will Stone wrote,

Fortunately, the chance of dying of covid remains very small for people under 50, but this age group can become seriously ill or experience long-term symptoms after the initial infection. People with underlying conditions such as obesity and heart disease are also more likely to become seriously ill.

In Washington State, Seattle and King county hospitals were receiving more people in their 20s than in their 70s. The press quoted a doctor who had recently admitted two patients in their late 30s, previously healthy, with heart failure caused by COVID. He suggested that rather than fearing death — which, after all, is an end to problems — the public might more realistically fear irreparable organ damage that would affect decades of life. (Affecting, of course, their ability to parent, caregive, teach, counsel, and coach children.)

In Colorado, Dr. Michelle Barron, of the gigantic UCHealth system, said that over the past few weeks the median age of COVID patients has dropped from 59-ish to around 48. As the summer wore on, medical personnel became more forthcoming about their emotionally wrenching experiences in treating patients who were simply not going to make it.

Dr. Brytney Cobia of the Grandview Medical Center in Birmingham, Alabama, wrote a Facebook post saying,

I’m admitting young healthy people to the hospital with very serious COVID infections. One of the last things they do before they’re intubated is beg me for the vaccine. I hold their hand and tell them that I’m sorry, but it’s too late.

(To be continued…)

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “More young people are getting hospitalized as Covid variants spread,”, 04/16/21
Source: “Michigan’s Covid Wards Are Filling Up With Younger Patients,”, 04/25/25
Source: “COVID doesn’t discriminate by age: Disease is on the rise for younger kids,”, 05/08/21
Source: “‘I’m sorry, but it’s too late’: Alabama doctor on treating unvaccinated, dying COVID patients,”, 07/21/21
Image by Phil Roeder/CC BY 2.0

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About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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