MIDLAND, Texas (Nexstar)- In a news conference Thursday, Midland Memorial Hospital CEO Russell Meyers said obesity is playing a large role in deaths among hospitalized patients. 

“In the last few days, we’ve lost two 32-year-old patients. They had in common, a number of things, but one consistent theme we’re seeing with virtually every patient that’s hospitalized, virtually every patient that has died in the hospital, is obesity,” Meyers said. “Patients who are overweight are at a much higher risk of hospitalization and death from this disease.”

Meyers said anyone with a BMI over 30 is at increased risk. And that risk is the same for children with obesity as well. 

When asked for an explanation for why weight matters in the fight against coronavirus, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Larry Wilson said there is something called an H2 receptor in the body that the virus binds to. He explained people with obesity tend to have a higher number of these receptors, which allows more of the virus to attack the body. Additionally, the virus puts extreme stress on the respiratory system. 

“Just by virtue of being overweight, breathing is not as good as that in people who are not overweight,” Wilson said. 

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