Houston Methodist CEO on the rise in coronavirus cases among youth

The CEO of a Houston-area hospital system told CNBC on Monday that Texas’ surge in coronavirus cases is affecting more people under the age of 50 than before in the pandemic.

“We are definitely seeing that this affects young people, and they are getting very sick,” Houston Methodist CEO Dr. Marc Boom said in “Squawk Box.” “So we really need everyone to do their part.”

About 60% of Covid-19 patients currently in the eight-hospital system are under the age of 50, Boom said. “It has completely changed” since the early stages of the crisis, when about 40% were under 50, she added.

Previously, about 1 in 5 people in beds in the intensive care unit were under the age of 50. Now, she said it’s almost 1 in 3.

Boom’s comments come as Texas and other U.S. states, such as Arizona and California, experience growth in Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations. Harris County, Texas, which includes much of Houston, was red alert last week.

Health officials have been warning that large numbers of young people are getting sick, possibly as a result of going to bars and other equally crowded places that they were able to reopen after strict trade restrictions.

Last week, in response to the increase in cases, Governor Greg Abbott in Texas and Governor Ron DeSantis in Florida closed bars in their respective states. California Governor Gavin Newsom on Sunday took similar steps, closing bars in some of the state’s counties, including Los Angeles.

Young people are considered to have a lower risk of serious illness due to Covid-19 compared to older adults and people with underlying medical conditions. But while this recent resurgence of the virus appears to be affecting younger adults more significantly, health experts warn that it could have far-reaching consequences.

“However, the concern is that you had so much infection at the community level in these states now that it will eventually infiltrate older populations that are more susceptible to the virus and you will see death rates fall back up,” Dr. Friday said Friday. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, to CNBC.

Boom said another difference between Covid-19 patients at Houston Methodist hospitals is that they need less to go to bed in the ICU. “Even though we have about 200 more inpatients, about twice as many, we only have about three or four more people in the ICU, so it’s encouraging.”

As of now, according to Boom, the Houston Methodist has the capacity to handle the Covid-19 outbreak, echoing similar comments Friday on CNBC by Dr. David Callender, CEO of the Memorial Hermann Health System in Houston.

However, the virus has not yet been contained in the Houston area, Boom emphasized, saying it is “spreading rapidly.”

“We are fine right now for space. But of course we need to control this virus or that cannot go on forever, obviously,” he said.

Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and a member of the boards of directors of Pfizer, the genetic testing startup Tempus and the biotech company Illumina.