New data from health department reveals impacts of coronavirus on community

Coronavirus

HONOLULU (KHON2) — The Department of Health has released new data on COVID-19 cases reported since March, and it shows how the virus has been spread across age, gender and ethnicity.

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So far, the bulk of COVID-19 cases in the state is comprised of people between the ages of 18 to 39.

“I think that [has to do with] several reasons,” said Dr. Lee Buenconsejo-Lum, John A. Burns School of Medicine associate dean for Academic Affairs. “One, that age group tends to be very social, you know likes to hang out, may be more active in group activities.”

While more young adults are becoming infected through social gatherings, it is those who are older, and the elderly, who are being hospitalized. She said sometimes those who are older may contract it from a family birthday party or a funeral.

“Those with weaker immune systems perhaps because they have an issue with chronic kidney disease,” said Buenconsejo-Lum. “Maybe they’re on dialysis or they have poorly controlled diabetes or other things like that that put them at a higher risk because they’re baseline immunity is not that strong.”

The new data also reveals that men edge out women when it comes to overall cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

“In terms of risk factors depending into the age group, there are some differences in the sense that males may have more certain types of risk factors than females,” said Buenconsejo-Lum.

She said many men also tend to work essential jobs in transportation or in groceries and retail. Jobs may also impact the types of ethnic groups that are getting COVID-19.

“If you look at who holds many of our essential worker jobs across the different industries,” said Buenconsejo-Lum. “You know, who might work in tourism or who might work in other types of occupations. It’s going to be Pacific Islanders and Filipinos.”

She said since many in those ethnic groups often live in generational homes with family members, they might not be able to isolate as effectively.

“Ideally you would have your own room,” said Buenconsejo-Lum. “You would have your own bathroom. But the reality for many of our population, we live in large generational households perhaps with two to three bedrooms with eight to 12 people.”

Dr. Buenconsejo-Lum said this data can help officials with targeted messaging for the future as COVID-19 cases continue to rise.

To see the full graphic from the Department of Health that includes the number of cases and areas where people who tested positive live, you can visit their website here.

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