Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) may be the main cause of death in patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Herein, we retrospect clinical features, outcomes and ARDS characteristics of 75 intensive care unit (ICU) patients with COVID-19 in Chongqing, China. We found a 5.3% case fatality rate of the ICU patients in Chongqing. 93% patients developed ARDS during the intensive care, and more than half were moderate. However, most of the patients (55%) supported with high flow nasal cannula (HFNC) oxygen therapy, but not mechanical ventilation. Nearly one third of patients with ARDS got an early improvement (eiARDS), and the rate is much higher than the other causes of ARDS in a previous study. Patients with eiARDS had a higher survival rate and lower length of ICU stay. The age (< 55 years) is an independent predictor for the eiARDS, and stratification of COVID-19 patients by age is recommended.