Who was most severely affected during peak of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Metro Detroit?

Henry Ford Hospital study examines those most affected by COVID-19 peak

It’s been several weeks since the peak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Metro Detroit. A new study took a look at who was most severely affected.

DETROIT – It’s been several weeks since the peak of the coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Metro Detroit. A new study took a look at who was most severely affected.

The Henry Ford Hospital study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and examined the characteristics of all 477 patients seen with COVID-19 in the Henry Ford Health System between March 9 and March 27 -- just as the peak of the pandemic in Michigan was beginning.

On March 10, the state confirmed its first two cases of COVID-19. The first two reported cases in the Henry Ford Health System were identified March 11.

Cases quickly climbed as the first wave of infections hit. This new report gives an overview of the situation.

Experts said 77% of patients required hospitalization, while 40% required the intensive care unit. Of the people in the ICU, 80% were on ventilators.

Overall, 16% of COVID-19 patients died within 30 days of being seen.

The average age of the patients was 58 years old, and being over age 60 distinctly increased the need for hospitalized and risk of death.

Although the proportion of men and women diagnosed with COVID-19 was about the same, men were three times more likely to require a ventilator and were also more likely to die.

Of the patients treated during the study, 77% were African American, experts said.

As for other medical conditions that predisposed to developing more severe illnesses, they were similar to what has been seen in other reports: severe obesity and chronic kidney disease being the more prominent.

Notably, only 27% of the patients had a known exposure to COVID-19, which speaks to the early, rapid and silent spread.

Another study reported preliminary results Tuesday on using steroids to treat COVID-19. It’s called the recovery trial in England and looks a different therapies.

Experts reported during a press conference that a low dose of the inexpensive steroid dexamethasone, also known as Decadron, reduced the risk of death in patients who were on a ventilator, as well as patients who required oxygen.

There are a couple of important notes. First, this is a preliminary result, so nothing has been published or reviewed yet. Also, the use of steroids in general with COVID-19 has been the subject of debate. There’s other evidence that if used too early, steroids can increase infection.

The bottom line is that the results were promising, but nobody should take steroids on their own without discussing their situation with a doctor.

About the Authors:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.