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June 17, 2020

Charted: Who's at highest risk of dying from Covid-19?

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    CDC in a report released Monday offered a detailed view of which Americans are contracting the new coronavirus, as well as which patients are most likely to develop severe cases of Covid-19 and die from the disease.

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    For the report, CDC provided detailed data on more than 1.3 million laboratory-confirmed cases of the new coronavirus and 103,700 deaths that were reported in the United States between Jan. 22 and May 30. CDC included data on underlying health conditions in the 22% of cases for which such data was available. In addition, CDC provided data on race and ethnicity among the nearly 600,000 cases for which it had such data, and on symptom status for among the roughly 600,500 cases for which it had such data. 

    Who's most likely to contract, become severely sick from, and die from the new coronavirus?

    Among the 599,636 cases for which CDC had data on patients' race and ethnicity, the agency found that: 

    • 36% of those patients were white;
    • 33% were Hispanic;
    • 22% were black;
    • 4% were Asian;
    • 1.3% were American Indian or Alaskan Native; and
    • Less than 1% were Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander.

    CDC noted that, among the 616,541 cases for which it had data on patients' symptom status, 22,007 patients—or about 4%—were asymptomatic, meaning they had tested positive for the new coronavirus but did not experience symptoms of Covid-19, the disease caused by the virus.

    CDC also had data on individual symptoms for 373,883 cases in which patients were experiencing symptoms of Covid-19. Among those patients:

    • 70% reported cough, fever, or shortness of breath;
    • 36% reported muscle aches;
    • 34% reported headache; and
    • 8% reported loss of taste or smell.

    Among the cases for which CDC had data on the patients' sex, the numbers of patients who tested positive for new coronavirus varied slightly, with 646,358 reported cases among males and 674,130 cases reported among females. However, CDC found that males overall were more likely to be hospitalized, admitted to the ICU, and die from the Covid-19 than females.

    Overall, CDC found that 14% of patients, or 184,673, who tested positive for the new coronavirus were hospitalized; 2%, or 29,837, were admitted to an ICU; and 5%, or 71,116, died. According to the report, the percentages of patients with a reported underlying medical condition who contracted the new coronavirus and were hospitalized, admitted to an ICU, or died where notably higher when compared with the corresponding percentages of patients without a reported underlying health condition. For instance, nearly 20% of patients with a reported underlying condition died, compared with 1.6% among otherwise healthy patients.

    That disparity held true among patients of all ages, CDC found. For example, 2.8% of patients ages 20 to 29 with a reported underlying health condition died, compared with 0.1% of patients ages 20 to 29 who did not have a reported underlying condition. Similarly, older patients were more than twice as likely to be hospitalized if they had a reported underlying health condition than those who did not, with 64.7% of those ages 70-79 and 62.3% of those ages 80+ with a reported underlying condition being hospitalized, compared with 27.9% and 30.1%, respectively, among those who didn't have a reported underlying condition.

    According to the report, the most commonly reported underlying health condition was heart disease, which was reported for 32% of patients, followed by diabetes at 30%, and chronic lung disease at 18%.

    CDC said the report "underscore[s] the need to build on current efforts to collect and analyze" data on U.S. patients who test positive for the new coronavirus, "especially among those with underlying health conditions."

    The agency also noted that the data indicates America's "Covid-19 pandemic continues to be severe, particularly in certain population groups" (Sun, Washington Post, 6/15; Tanner, Associated Press, 6/15; Hellmann, The Hill, 6/15; CDC Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, 6/15).

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