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Houston Methodist CEO on rising coronavirus cases among young people



The CEO of a Houston-area hospital system told CNBC on Monday that Texas' spike in coronavirus cases affects a greater number of people under the age of 50 than previously in the pandemic.

"We definitely see this affecting young people, and they get pretty sick," Houston Methodist CEO Dr. Marc Boom said on "Squawk Box." "So we really need everyone to do their thing."

About 60% of Covid-1

9 patients currently in the eight-hospital system are under 50, Boom said. "It has completely turned around" from the earlier stages of the crisis, when about 40% were under 50, he added.

Previously, about 1 in 5 people on intensive care beds was under 50 years of age. Now, he said almost 1 in 3.

Boom's comments come as Texas and other states across the United States such as Arizona and California are experiencing a growth in Covid-19 cases and hospital admissions. Harris County, Texas, which includes much of Houston, went to a red alert last week.

Health officials have warned that a greater number of young people are getting sick, possibly as a result of going to bars and other similarly crowded venues that could open again after strict business restrictions.

Last week, in response to the increased cases, Texas Prime Minister Greg Abbott and Florida's Ron Ron DeSantis closed the bars in their respective states. California Gavin Newsom on Sunday took similar steps and shuttered bars in some of the state's counties, including Los Angeles.

Adolescents are considered to have a lower risk of serious disease from Covid-19 compared to older adults and people with underlying medical conditions. But while the recent surge of the virus seems to hit younger adults more significantly, health experts warn that it could have broad consequences.

"The concern, however, is that you had so much community-level infection in these states now that it will eventually seep back into older populations that are more susceptible to the virus and that you will see rates of death rise again," Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner, told CNBC Friday.

Boom said that another difference among Covid-19 patients at Houston Methodist Hospital is that fewer need to go to an ICU bed. "Although we have about 200 more patients in the house, about double, we only have about three or four more people in the ICU, so that's encouraging."

According to Boom, Houston Methodist currently has the capacity to handle the Covid-19 outbreak, and reverts similar comments on CNBC Friday from Dr. David Callender, CEO of Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston.

However, the virus has not yet been contained in the Houston area, Boom emphasized, saying it is "spreading rapidly."

"We're fine with space. But of course, we have to get this virus under control, or it can't continue forever," he said.

Disclosure: Dr. Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor to the boards of Pfizer and biotechnology company Illumina.


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