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Most adult age groups similarly at risk for contracting Covid-19

Of the Erie County residents who have been tested for Covid-19, the percentage of those infected with the new coronavirus has been roughly the same for almost every adult age group, between 12% and 15%, according to figures released Friday.

While the elderly remain most susceptible to dying from the disease, the data show that no particular age group, except for children, appears more resistant to contracting the illness.

Erie County Health Commissioner Dr. Gale Burstein said the figures lead her to conclude the positive cases are largely driven by a lack of social distancing.

"We know that adults of all ages are at risk of getting infected with Covid-19, and it's not so much your age group once you're an adult," Burstein said during a press briefing. "It's really dependent on your behavior."

In March and much of April, demographic data from Covid-19 testing did not prove a particularly reliable guide, because so few tests were available to the general public.

But with the wider availability of diagnostic Covid-19 testing, the number of confirmed cases in Erie County has not only increased but also evened out considerably across all adult age groups.

The exception remains children. Only 2.2% of children from infancy through age 14 have tested positive for the virus. They account for 115 of the 5,313 confirmed cases as of Thursday.

Children appear to follow the general pattern of showing fewer Covid-19 symptoms than adults, and they are less likely to be tested as a result, Burstein said. She added that while the county originally suspected three children of suffering from Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome, that proved not to be the case.

Among adults 20 or older, the age group for those in their 70s showed the lowest percentage of confirmed cases. By contrast, those who are 80 or older had the highest percentage of confirmed cases – 16% – which is not drastically higher than other age groups.

More Erie County women are testing positive than men, even though more men are dying of Covid-19 across nearly every adult age group except for those 80 and above.

Women account for 57% of all Erie County residents who have tested positive for Covid-19, compared with 43% for men.

Burstein speculated that this could be because women tend to be more likely to address health concerns and may be choosing to get tested more than men.

More nursing home residents are also being tested, and nursing homes tend to have a higher percentage of female residents.

Erie County unveiled a new website to make it easier for residents to find a location that offers either diagnostic or antibody testing. The website is 

High demand for antibody tests has appointments filled through the rest of May. Appointments are being made for June. Many other local health care providers are offering antibody tests with little-to-no wait. However, they may charge an out-of-pocket fee.

So far, judging by the results of more than 35,000 antibody tests done in Erie County, more than 90% of the county population has no antibodies or immunity to the virus.

The number of Covid-19 cases requiring admission to intensive care has fallen to 38 as of Wednesday, according to county figures. That's the lowest number since March 28.

Overall hospitalizations have also fallen after four straight days of increases.

With the Memorial Day weekend coming up, it's important to adhere to social distancing measures as people are out and interacting more, Burstein said.

"Please, be smart and be safe," she said. "Enjoy the outdoors in small groups and wear a mask."

Watch video of the county press conference:

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