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The virus is killing New Florida people. Race is a big factor.



The last time Miriam Castro saw her son Herman, he was in the hospital. A mask covered his tear-stained face as he collapsed during a FaceTime phone call.

He kept saying, ‘I love you, Ma, I love you, Ma. Take care of yourself. This is not a game, “recalled Ms Castro. “He cried and cried.”

Herman J. Castro, a 32-year-old manager of a McDonald’s in Central Florida, died two days later.

He is among more than 100 adults aged 25 to 44 who died of Covid-19 in Florida last month.

Throughout the pandemic, Gov. Ron DeSantis from Florida has pointed out that the state coronavirus crisis is largely limited to the very old. He has consistently observed that Florida has seen more coronavirus deaths in people over the age of 90 than in all people under the age of 65. But data reviewed by the New York Times shows they are changing: Deaths were higher in July for residents under 65 than for those over 90.

Moreover, more Florida residents in the 25-44 age group died in July than had died in the previous four months of the combined pandemic, according to a summary of data from the Florida Department of Health. More than 200 have died in all.

Although they still account for the relatively small number of more than 8,000 total coronavirus deaths in the state, the number of younger adults who died of the disease quadrupled last month, underscoring a bitter mathematical reality: While more and more young people test positive for coronavirus, more of them will die.

Tali Elfassy, ​​an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of Miami, said that while the case fatality rate is lower for young people, there has recently been a major shift in the age distribution of those infected – from middle-aged and older individuals, in younger adults.

“Even if most of the people dying from Covid are elderly individuals, the fact that we have this demographic shift towards infected young people will give us an increase in deaths among young people,” she said.

Nationwide, the proportion of all deaths occurring in young age groups remains small – only 38 deaths from coronavirus out of every 1,000 in July are attributed to young people, but this has risen from 22 per 1,000 in May.

By July, about 3,800 people in the United States in the age group had died from the coronavirus, according to figures released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This would make the coronavirus one of the leading causes of death for this age group, roughly comparable to the number of young people killed in the same period in recent years.

And these figures include only deaths that are officially attributed to the virus. The overall death toll in the US is much higher than normal this year, suggesting the virus number is even higher than official figures show. More than 96,000 people aged 25-44 have died so far this year, compared to an average of 78,000 at this point over the past five years.

Health officials are concerned that young people have been reckless in resuming social activities at parties and bars, and the number of infections among young people has increased. However, young people who are dying are not necessarily the ones who got sick at a party.

Among the teens who recently underwent coronavirus in Florida were a 26-year-old convenience store clerk and a 42-year-old chef. At least three of the people who died worked in shelters caring for the sick and disabled; one of them was 41 years old and two were 31 years old. A 35-year-old woman worked at the front desk of a hospital.

Records also show that people who died of the virus in Florida among young people were disproportionately Black. Among people aged 25 to 44, African-Americans make up 18 percent of Florida’s population but account for 44 percent of deaths. Black Florida residents over the age of 65 are dying at twice the rate of white residents, but among young adults, the death rate is nearly three times higher.

More than a thousand Latinos in Florida have also died from the virus, although their death rate for most age groups is comparable to the death rate for non-Hispanic whites.

Many of the younger victims had diabetes or were obese, highlighting the risks that people with health problems face regardless of their age.

Robert Ruiz, from Sebring, Fla., Worked at a center for people with traumatic brain injury. He became ill with the virus from one of the patients.

“He was only 31 years old,” said his sister, Chenique Mills. “That’s why this is so incredible. He should not disappear. This is madness.”

Mr Ruiz was overweight but had no basic medical conditions, said Ms. Mills. His Facebook account is filled with selfies taken at the gym, where he was trying to crash, she said. A born-again Christian, he was a rap artist who enjoyed performing in church functions.

He died July 12 in his bedroom, two days after the onset of symptoms. The coronavirus test administered every two weeks at his workplace returned positive two days later. He left behind a baby.

“He was blowing it up. He did not think it was as serious,” she said. Mills. “This whole” you are young, will not affect you “is irritating.”

Mr DeSantis said last month that the average age of new coronavirus cases had reached a low of 33, from 50 and 60 in March and April. Records show that when tens of thousands of young people started testing positively immediately after the state reopened, middle age began to erupt again as young people infected older people around them.

The average age is now 42.

At the height of the crisis, the United States saw a point at which 400 young people were dying each week. More detailed federal data on coronavirus deaths lag behind state and local affairs reports by several weeks, and do not fully reflect the current death rate. However, figures show that nationwide, their number is approaching 4,000.

Seedlings are happening in Florida played earlier in the Northeast. While much attention was paid to tragedies in nursing homes and assisted living environments, nearly 700 young people died from the coronavirus in New York City alone. In New Jersey, 370 people in the 25 to 44 age group died.

The difference in Florida is that the increase in deaths among young people is happening now.

“We are seeing more deaths among adults,” said Dr. Russell Vega, the chief medical examiner overseeing the counties of Sarasota, Manatee and Desoto.

Given that young people make up more than half of the new infections reported, some believe the overall risk to young people is negligible.

However, health experts continue to urge young people to take care. “This is not going to be easy,” said Chighaf Bakour, an assistant professor of epidemiology at the University of South Florida. “These are young people – they should not die at this age.”

Ms. Bakour stressed that tracking deaths shows only part of the story as coronavirus infections can result in poor outcomes – like chronic breathing problems and other long-term health complications – without resulting in death.

Cindy Prins, an associate professor of epidemiology at the University of Florida, said the public should expect more deaths among young Americans.

“We have had this notion in people’s minds that it is okay because young people do not get sick from this virus and young people certainly do not die from it,” Ms Prince said. “Well, it’s not true. Young people get sick. Young people are dying.”

Some Florida-based epidemiologists said coronavirus deaths among young people in the state could help expose existing long-standing social and health inequalities between black and white people. African-Americans, they said, are more likely to have co-morbidities, such as diabetes or overweight, even at a young age, which can make them more susceptible to the virus and put them at risk. a higher risk of death.

Infections can be transmitted between ethnic minorities and people at economic loss because they do not have the luxury of social distance in their homes, which are often close quarters, they said. Many of them also do essential jobs that already put them at risk, and have to use public transportation to get to work within persons.

“You have this dual impact that minorities are more likely to contract Covid and then more likely to die due to chronic conditions,” said Ms. Elfassy.

Imelda Bernardo believed that her son, Alexander G. Bacani Bernardo, would recover from the coronavirus. After all, he was only 22 years old and did not suffer from basic diseases. He weighed about 300 pounds but was tall and muscular, she said.

“Even though he’s a big guy, he’s good. He’s 22, he’s good, he was good,” said Ms Bernardo, 49.

The mother and son, immigrants from the Philippines, both worked at a nursing home in Jacksonville – Mrs. Bernardo as a dietitian and he as a dietitian. While ill at home with his family, Mr. Bernardo is thought to have infected his father, Alvin, 49, who was a smoker with diabetes and hypertension, according to state health records.

The boy died on July 17th. His father, two days later.


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