COVID-19 impacting younger age groups in Mohave County
KINGMAN – COVID-19 is now impacting younger age groups in Mohave County, with Mohave County Public Health Director Denise Burley reporting to the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Sept. 7 that the 11-19 age group comprised the largest percentage of cases for August at 17.1%.
In her COVID-19 update to the board, Burley said the county has experienced 26,127 cases with 2,477 patients ever hospitalized as of Tuesday. She also said the county has the highest positivity rate across the state at approximately 16%, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services.
“Case counts in Mohave County are at the highest level since January of 2021,” Burley said, noting that cases have plateaued over the past couple of weeks after peaking the week of Aug. 14.
Burley also said that the average age for those contracting the virus continues to decrease. While currently at 45.8 years old for the pandemic as a whole, the health director said that figure for August was 38.1 years old.
“The largest percentage of cases in August came from the 11-19 age group, which contributed 17.1% of cases, followed by the 30-39 age group at 14%,” Burley said. “So what we’re seeing is our school-aged kids are more impacted by this, and we certainly want to keep schools open. That’s our priority as well as everyone else’s.”
Burley said later in her report that cases continue to rise among children ages 5–18. She said cases have increased so rapidly over the past six weeks that cases were almost at levels last seen in December 2020, when the county had the highest number of cases in the past year.
“The week ending Aug. 28 had the third-highest case count for children in this age group since the pandemic began,” Burley said. “In August, there were 629 cases in children between 5 and 18 years old. This is a 149.6% increase over the 252 cases in July.”
The average age of death from COVID-19 is decreasing as well, according to Burley. Throughout the pandemic, the average age of death has been 73.7 years old, and 71.6 for 2021. However, since April of this year, the average age has been below 70 years old.
“Additionally, Mohave County is seeing a large number of deaths in the younger age groups compared to the start of the pandemic,” Burley said. “In August, nearly a quarter of all COVID deaths were under the age of 60 years old with an average age of 67.2. So that’s been a change for us, certainly.”
After decreasing in the spring, hospitalizations are on the rise as well. There were 157 COVID hospitalizations reported in August, which Burley said was the largest number in one month since January 2021.
“The average age of COVID hospitalizations is 66 years old, however, this age average continues to drop due to an increasing number of hospitalizations in the younger age groups,” Burley explained.
August saw an average age of hospitalization of 61.5 years old, with 41.4% of those hospitalized under the age of 60. For vaccinations, 42.3% of county residents have received at least one dose of a vaccine, with about 35% fully vaccinated.
“The majority of COVID cases continue to be among the unvaccinated population,” Burley said. “In July and August, 93.5% and 91.8% of cases, respectively, were not fully vaccinated at the time of diagnosis.”
The vaccination rate for those ages 65 and older in the county currently sits at 60.1%, which Burley called a “pretty low percentage.” The state rate for that age group is more than 90%.
In answering a question from Supervisor Ron Gould of District 5, Burley said the Pfizer vaccine has been approved for those ages 16 and over, but for those age 12-15, it is still under an emergency-use authorization. She also confirmed that there are 13 additional ongoing vaccine studies. “You would hope they’re going to continue to evaluate the vaccines,” she said. “You wouldn’t hope that they just approve them and be done; you would expect that they would continue to evaluate them and test them and create the rigor behind it that you want with every vaccine, not just this.”