Dr. Matthew Sims remembers well that one of his first patients who died of COVID-19 was only 35.
“I remember it because they were so young,” said Sims, director of infectious disease research at Beaumont Health.
“And in the beginning, so many people died alone,” he said, because visits to most hospitals were forbidden or restricted.
The nation recently marked 1 million deaths as a result of COVID-19. In Michigan, there have been close to 36,000 confirmed and probable deaths, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.
Not surprisingly, the largest percentage of deaths occurred in people over 65 years of age. But those aged 18-64 accounted for nearly a quarter of the deaths, Sims said.
Many of them were people who raised children and created a large group that would grow up without one or both parents, Sims said.
“It’s incredible when you think about the ripple effect of it,” he said. “It is difficult to see through. There will be consequences in the coming years.”
Children dealing with the loss of a parent also deal with other effects of the pandemic that also affect their peers, such as being isolated from friends or suffering academic, psychological, or emotional setbacks.
Across all ages, races, genders, and socioeconomic statuses, the unvaccinated died at a rate 10 times higher than vaccinated patients who received COVID, Sims said.
Another factor probably caused so many deaths in the 18-64 age group.
In some cases, they were old enough to have a health condition that put them at greater risk of dying, but not old enough to retire. So they could not quarantine at home as much as a retiree could.
Sims said COVID-19 is now the third most common cause of death in the 18-64 age group after cancer and heart disease.