One of the most frightening aspects of the new coronavirus pandemic is its unpredictability.
The vast majority of people who contract the virus that causes COVID-19 will experience nothing more than mild illness. For others, infection with this coronavirus will be fatal.
You are at much greater risk of becoming gravely ill from COVID-19 if you are older than 60 or if you have certain health conditions — such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease.
About 4 in 10 U.S. adults (41%) fall into one or both of those high-risk categories, according to a new analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation. That works out to 105.5 million Americans.
“Based on information currently available, our definition of high risk includes older adults (ages 60 or older) and younger adults between the ages of 18 and 59 with heart disease, cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or diabetes.”
In six states, more than 45% of the adult population is in this high-risk group. Those states are:
- West Virginia: 51.1% of adults are at higher risk of serious illness if infected with the new coronavirus
- Maine: 47.2%
- Florida: 46.5%
- Arkansas: 46.5%
- Alabama: 46.1%
- Kentucky: 45.5%
In 27 more states — spread across the country — 40% to 45% of adults fall into this high-risk group. See the KFF report for a map detailing the percentage of adults at risk for serious illness from COVID-19 in each state.
KFF notes that it could not include hypertension as a risk factor in its analysis, as such data was not available. Had KFF included that data, the percentage of adults at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 likely would have been even higher.
The overwhelming majority of adults at higher risk of serious illness from COVID-19 — 72.4%, or 76.3 million adults — are at higher risk because they are older, KFF notes. The remaining adults at higher risk — 29.2 million people ages 18 to 59 — have an underlying medical condition that makes them vulnerable.
How to protect yourself from the coronavirus
Money Talks News typically tries to protect your pocketbook. But a pandemic like COVID-19 reminds us that some things are far more important than your financial well-being.
For that reason, we have covered this medical story in unusual detail, and will continue to do so. You can find a collection of the stories we’ve published — and those we will publish in the future — by bookmarking our coronavirus webpage.
We hope someday soon that the page will be obsolete, and we can get back to talking dollars and cents. But for now, know that we will be here to keep you informed about this important story every step of the way.
How has the coronavirus threat changed your life? Let us know in comments below or on our Facebook page.