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In US, Older People, Minorities, Those with Health Issues Most Likely COVID Victims

FILE - Health care workers wait for patients to be tested at a walk-in COVID-19 testing site in Arlington, Virginia, May 12, 2020.
FILE - Health care workers wait for patients to be tested at a walk-in COVID-19 testing site in Arlington, Virginia, May 12, 2020.

Older people, minorities and those with pre-existing health conditions have been the most vulnerable to dying from COVID-19 in the United States, a new comprehensive study shows.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said Tuesday that the death rate in the United States for those who contracted the coronavirus was highest for those 80 years old and older, and lowest among children 9 years old and younger, according to the surveillance report, published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Yet the CDC said there was not a straight line by age for those who have contracted COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus, with higher incidences among people from age 40 to 59 than for those between 60 and 79.

Based on ethnicity

In cases where the ethnicity of coronavirus victims was known, the CDC said 33% were Hispanic, 22% were black, and 1.3% were American Indian or Alaska Native, all disproportionately bigger shares compared to their representation in the U.S. population, 18%, 13% and 0.7%, respectively.

The U.S. has recorded more than 2.1 million coronavirus cases and more than 116,000 deaths, far and away more than in any other country, with health experts predicting tens of thousands more deaths in the coming months from the virus first reported late last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan.

The CDC study covered the first 1.7 million infections and 103,000 deaths between Jan. 22, with the first confirmation of a coronavirus case, and May 30.

Women have edge

During that period, the CDC said hospitalizations were six times higher and deaths 12 times greater among those who reported underlying health issues, such as cardiovascular disease (32%), diabetes (30%) and chronic lung disease (18%).

It found that men and women contracted COVID-19 at about the same rate, but that men were more likely to be hospitalized, placed in intensive care or die than women.

All 50 U.S. state governors have reopened parts of their economies, but their directives vary widely, leaving the U.S. with a hodge-podge of coronavirus regulations. Some states have largely allowed businesses to reopen, while others have restricted the number of people who can eat at a restaurant, exercise at gyms or get a haircut, among other things.

Far from over

The spread of the pandemic is far from over in the United States. While the number of cases has sharply diminished in the hardest hit city, New York, 21 states are currently reporting an increasing number of cases.

Health officials have voiced great concern about the spread of the disease, particularly at large-scale events like President Donald Trump’s scheduled political rally Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, his first such gathering in three months, and at mass street protests throughout the U.S. against police abuse of minorities.

The CDC said, “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be severe, particularly in certain population groups. These preliminary findings underscore the need to build on current efforts to collect and analyze case data, especially among those with underlying health conditions."