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The WCIRB estimates about 30,000 COVID-19 claims will be filed in California, generating about $1.2 billion in costs. About 15,000 have been filed so far. Medical research on causative and risk factors are in the process of being created and published. This research will be critical evidence as causation and apportionment issues are litigated in these claims.

COVID-19 morbidity and mortality reports in the U.S. have not included findings specific to young adults. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides a list of conditions and associated behaviors, including smoking, conferring risk of severe COVID-19 illness regardless of age.

A new University of California San Francisco study published this month in the Journal of Adolescent Health, examined young adults’ medical vulnerability to severe COVID-19 illness, focusing on smoking-related behavior.

A young adult subsample (aged 18-25 years) was developed from the National Health Interview Survey, a nationally representative data set, pooling years 2016-2108. The medical vulnerability measure (yes vs. no) was developed, guided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention risk indicators. The estimates of medical vulnerability were developed for the full sample, the nonsmoking sample, and the individual risk indicators. Logistic regressions were conducted to examine differences by sex, race/ethnicity, income, and insurance.

Smoking was the most common risk factor for severe COVID-19 complications among otherwise largely healthy young people. For young men, smoking or vaping may more than double the potential of being hospitalized, needing intensive care or even dying from the virus. For young women, it could increase the possibility 1½ times.

The findings from this analysis indicate that nearly one in three young adults are medically vulnerable to severe COVID-19 illness (32%).

In contrast, in the nonsmoking young adult group, only about one in six is medically vulnerable to severe COVID-19 illness (16%).

This difference between estimates is driven largely by the sizable portion of young adults who reported that they engaged in past 30-day smoking (1 in 10) and past 30-day e-cigarette use (1 in 14).

By contrast, relatively fewer young adults reported medical conditions identified by the CDC as conferring severe illness risk.