THUNDER BAY - The COVID-19 pandemic has been taking a tragic toll on the Thunder Bay District and while older adults appear to be experiencing more severe illness and death, the average age of hospitalizations shows even younger people are suffering from the virus.
According to data from the Thunder Bay District Health Unit, of the 128 patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 between Jan. 1, 2021 and March 31, the average age is 57.8 years old.
Since the start of the pandemic, there has been 52 deaths and of the 26 deaths that occurred in 2021, 22 in March alone, the average age was 73.8 years old.
Dr. Janet DeMille, medical officer of health with the Thunder Bay District Health Unit said the high number of hospitalizations and deaths shows just how dangerous COVID-19 is and while more seniors account for the majority of hospitalizations in the district, younger people are being admitted as well.
“People who are hospitalized, it is generally the older age group and people who have passed away from COVID is from that older age group primarily,” she said. “There is still a range and it doesn’t mean someone younger hasn’t been hospitalized or passed away.”
In the district, the majority of deaths related to COVID-19 are associated with age and other comorbidities.
“I think what we are seeing in terms of hospitalizations and individuals who have passed away as a result of COVID is the same risk factors, so age, underlying comorbidities contribute to both of those, people having more severe illnesses and passing away,” DeMille said. “It doesn’t mean everyone had those risk factors, but certainly the majority do.”
There are also concerns that COVID-19 variants are resulting in more severe illness among young people in other parts of the province, but according to DeMille, none of the confirmed variant cases in the district has resulted in any deaths.
Minister of Health Patty Hajdu said while every death is tragic and leaves family’s grieving the loss of a loved one, it is also a sobering reminder that COVID-19 is real and a dangerous virus.
“We still have people who wonder if it’s real, especially in communities here, like ours, that haven’t seen a lot of disease activity,” she said.“But it is very real and each death is a person. Each death is a loved one. Of course deaths are a lagging indicator, meaning the more disease that we see, the more people that get sick, the more people are hospitalized and the more people that die. It’s an important reminder for all of us to continue to protect one another.”