PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Doctors who work on the frontlines in Oregon say they are seeing younger and sicker patients coming into the ICU in this latest deadly wave of the novel coronavirus.

The Oregon Health Authority said the age group showing the most infection is people between 20 and 49, who made up 51% of the confirmed cases during the week ending November 15.

Dr. David Hotchkin, a pulmonary and critical care physician with the Oregon Clinic, said some of these patients are dying, some having near-death experiences and others have lingering symptoms long after they catch the virus. When it comes to COVID, he said, it’s not worth gambling with your life no matter your age.

“Some of the scariest stories are the people who are in their 30s and 40s that walk into the hospital and die within an hour or two,” Hotchkin told KOIN 6 News.

He said he’s seeing an alarming number of healthy and active people in the ER.

“We had a younger individual who died after showing up and doing OK, luckily was able to be resucistated so we were able to bring his or her heart back and they are recovering,” he said.

And he said he’s seen it strike a physically tough man so hard, he could hardly eat.

Dr. David Hotchkin, a pulmonary and critical care physician with the Oregon Clinic, November 18, 2020 (KOIN)

“(This is) someone who did heavy physical activity for his job who got so sick he could only take one bite of food every 5 minutes beause it took so long to recover his breathing, that he could take another bite,” Hotchkin said. “I mean, this is a guy that for his job lifts heavy objects and carries heavy beams, and carres like 80 to 100 pounds up flights of stairs and does all sorts of other things. And he was so tired he could barely lift a fork loaded with scrambled eggs.”

A physical therapist told him it took her a month to feel like she was walking normally again after battling COVID-19.

“That’s a physical therapist that is active, knows how to take care of herself.”

Hotchkin said of those who experienced moderate-to-severe disease, between 50-60% of them still report lingering effects for 2 to 3 months afterward. Everyone, he said, should be taking precautions.

“If we make sure we are not potentially spreading COVID, we are wearing a mask inside any other facility other than in our own home and not having social interactions with other individuals we can stop the spread of COVID and help save the lives of other individuals.”

He also said it’s important to get a flu shot this year. Dr. Hotchkin also said COVID is much more serious than a flu, pointing to recent studies that show it’s double the risk of death for people compared to the flu.

OHA Weekly Testing results

The number of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations set record highs for the week ending November 15, the Oregon Health Authority said Wednesday.

The positivity rate also jumped to 12.5% “even with an increase in the number of people tested,” officials said. The positivity rate the week before was 11.9%

The one bright note is there were fewer deaths week-to-week, from 42 to 31. There were 6491 cases confirmed in the week and 291 people hospitalized with COVID-19.

Once again, people between 20 and 49 made up 51% of the confirmed cases during the week, the age group showing the most infections. Those older than 70 made up 75% of those who died.