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Biggest population groups vulnerable to COVID-19 in every state

  • Biggest population groups vulnerable to COVID-19 in every state

    The unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic has put the most vulnerable and marginalized people at the highest risk. This novel coronavirus will surely be the focus of relentless study for much of the foreseeable future, as medical experts and policymakers take a closer look at the most significant factors in its spread and severity.

    To paint a clearer picture of those disproportionately affected, Stacker investigated data across dozens of sources to determine exactly which groups of people are most vulnerable in every state. We’ve concluded who is most at risk and contextualized the findings in relation to national averages to show how each situation is unique to its state.

    We compiled a list of 26 population groups that are demonstrably either more at risk of contracting the virus due to location or occupational conditions, or more at risk of experiencing a more-severe case due to health risk factors. We then split these groups into three categories: demographic (social and race/ethnicity groups), economic (groups relating to occupation), and epidemiological (groups related to preexisting disease conditions). Conclusions are represented by the top three demographic groups, top three economic groups, and top four epidemiological groups for each state. For additional insight, we’ve included small groups (less than 10% of the national population) for which the state ranks highly compared with the national average.

    Among the demographic factors, we found rural states are at high risk, as residents lack accessible, convenient medical care, or as many hospitals have closed in recent decades. Black and Latino communities are suffering in numbers far higher than their share of population. Many who are clustered in low-paying jobs—and those deemed essential—don’t have the safer option of working at home and are thus more exposed to the public and the virus.

    Older people face some of the greatest risk of falling severely ill from COVID-19, especially those with weakened immune systems and chronic health conditions. Many live in long-term care facilities, where a tragic combination of proximity, poorly-paid staff, and a dearth of protective gear have turned care centers into death traps. Homeless people have little defense, and thousands of inmates have tested positive in prisons where they cannot practice social isolation to protect themselves.

    The full list of groups and data sources that we used can be found in this public spreadsheet, that explores risks to vulnerable populations in each state.

    Related: 20 ways COVID-19 is impacting children around the world

  • Alabama

    Biggest at-risk demographic groups:
    - #1. Rural: 28.8% (1.7% above national average)
    - #2. Black or African American: 26.6% (73.3% above national average)
    - #3. Seniors (age 65+): 16.1% (3.5% above national average)

    Biggest at-risk economic groups:
    - #1. Below poverty level: 17.5% (28.2% above national average)
    - #2. Uninsured: 12.1% (30.2% above national average)
    - #3. Healthcare workers: 4.1% (15.0% below national average)

    Biggest at-risk epidemiological groups:
    - #1. Hypertension: 41.9% (28.0% above national average)
    - #2. Obese: 36.2% (15.6% above national average)
    - #3. Smokers: 19.2% (15.7% above national average)
    - #4. Diabetes: 14.5% (30.5% above national average)

    Other data insights:
    - Alabama has the #4 highest rate of major cardiovascular disease (12.1%), 40.3% higher than the national average
    - Alabama has the #4 highest rate of chronic lung disease (10.3%), 45.6% higher than the national average

    In Alabama, a high poverty rate mixes with the presence of significant cardiovascular disease and other health problems: fertile ground for coronavirus to spread and have a severe impact. Adding to the numbers of people in need, more people filed for unemployment in Alabama in mid-March and April than in the last two years, Gov. Ivey said.

  • Alaska

    Biggest at-risk demographic groups:
    - #1. Rural: 87.2% (208.5% above national average)
    - #2. Native American/Alaska Native: 14.4% (791.3% above national average)
    - #3. Disabled: 12.0% (8.9% below national average)

    Biggest at-risk economic groups:
    - #1. Uninsured: 13.8% (49.1% above national average)
    - #2. Below poverty level: 10.8% (20.9% below national average)
    - #3. Healthcare workers: 4.3% (9.5% below national average)

    Biggest at-risk epidemiological groups:
    - #1. Hypertension: 31.8% (2.9% below national average)
    - #2. Obese: 29.5% (5.8% below national average)
    - #3. Smokers: 19.1% (15.1% above national average)
    - #4. Asthma: 9.2% (4.9% below national average)

    Other data insights:
    - Alaska has the #1 highest Native American/Alaska Native population (14.4%), 791.3% higher than the national average

    Alaska has nearly 800% more Native Americans in its population than the average. Native Americans struggle with poverty, poor health, substandard medical care, and cramped housing. The number of homes in Alaska defined as overcrowded is about double the national average, an obstacle to social distancing.

  • Arizona

    Biggest at-risk demographic groups:
    - #1. Hispanic/Latino: 31.1% (165.2% above national average)
    - #2. Seniors (age 65+): 16.7% (7.3% above national average)
    - #3. Disabled: 12.9% (1.7% below national average)

    Biggest at-risk economic groups:
    - #1. Below poverty level: 16.1% (17.9% above national average)
    - #2. Uninsured: 11.4% (22.3% above national average)
    - #3. Healthcare workers: 4.2% (12.1% below national average)

    Biggest at-risk epidemiological groups:
    - #1. Hypertension: 30.7% (6.2% below national average)
    - #2. Obese: 29.5% (5.8% below national average)
    - #3. Smokers: 14.0% (15.6% below national average)
    - #4. Diabetes: 10.8% (2.8% below national average)

    Other data insights:
    - Arizona has the #5 highest incarcerated population (0.6%), 54.9% higher than the national average

    Not only is Arizona home to a large Latino population that is susceptible to the spread of COVID-19, but the state has one of the biggest incarcerated populations in the nation. As of early May, several dozen inmates have tested positive, though only a very small portion of the state’s 41,000-plus incarcerated population has been tested.

  • Arkansas

    Biggest at-risk demographic groups:
    - #1. Rural: 40.8% (44.3% above national average)
    - #2. Disabled: 17.2% (30.8% above national average)
    - #3. Seniors (age 65+): 16.3% (4.8% above national average)

    Biggest at-risk economic groups:
    - #1. Below poverty level: 17.6% (28.9% above national average)
    - #2. Uninsured: 9.5% (2.2% above national average)
    - #3. Healthcare workers: 4.4% (7.4% below national average)

    Biggest at-risk epidemiological groups:
    - #1. Hypertension: 41.3% (26.1% above national average)
    - #2. Obese: 37.1% (18.5% above national average)
    - #3. Smokers: 22.7% (36.8% above national average)
    - #4. Diabetes: 13.9% (25.1% above national average)

    Other data insights:
    - Arkansas has the #3 highest rate of major cardiovascular disease (12.6%), 46.1% higher than the national average

    With Arkansas’ high prevalence of major heart disease, many residents are at risk of falling very ill to coronavirus. Compounding the danger, more than a third of residents qualify as obese. Obesity is closely linked to diabetes, a major indicator of severe coronavirus cases.

  • California

    Biggest at-risk demographic groups:
    - #1. Hispanic/Latino: 38.9% (231.7% above national average)
    - #2. Seniors (age 65+): 13.6% (12.6% below national average)
    - #3. Disabled: 10.5% (19.6% below national average)

    Biggest at-risk economic groups:
    - #1. Below poverty level: 14.3% (4.7% above national average)
    - #2. Uninsured: 8.6% (7.9% below national average)
    - #3. Healthcare workers: 4.6% (4.3% below national average)

    Biggest at-risk epidemiological groups:
    - #1. Hypertension: 28.4% (13.3% below national average)
    - #2. Obese: 25.8% (17.6% below national average)
    - #3. Smokers: 11.2% (32.5% below national average)
    - #4. Diabetes: 10.4% (6.4% below national average)

    Other data insights:
    - California has the #2 highest population in multi-generational households (5.9%), 74.7% higher than the national average
    - California has the #5 highest homeless population (0.4%), 145.6% higher than the national average

    California has been one of the hardest-hit states, and it implemented some of the strictest protocols to help stop the spread. Factors that could be making the state vulnerable have been its high Latino population, its high poverty level, and a homeless population that is 145.6% higher than the national average.

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  • Colorado

    Biggest at-risk demographic groups:
    - #1. Hispanic/Latino: 21.4% (82.5% above national average)
    - #2. Rural: 14.5% (48.7% below national average)
    - #3. Seniors (age 65+): 13.4% (13.9% below national average)

    Biggest at-risk economic groups:
    - #1. Below poverty level: 10.9% (20.2% below national average)
    - #2. Uninsured: 8.4% (9.0% below national average)
    - #3. Food service workers: 4.7% (8.2% above national average)

    Biggest at-risk epidemiological groups:
    - #1. Hypertension: 25.9% (20.9% below national average)
    - #2. Obese: 23.0% (26.5% below national average)
    - #3. Smokers: 14.5% (12.6% below national average)
    - #4. Asthma: 9.1% (5.9% below national average)

    The biggest risk factor linked to a potentially severe coronavirus outbreak in Colorado is the size of the state’s Latino population. More than one in five residents is Latino, and they are being disproportionately affected by the virus. Many have low-wage jobs and cannot afford to stop working in the pandemic, or service jobs that put them in contact with the public.

  • Connecticut

    Biggest at-risk demographic groups:
    - #1. Seniors (age 65+): 16.4% (5.4% above national average)
    - #2. Hispanic/Latino: 15.7% (33.9% above national average)
    - #3. Disabled: 11.0% (16.3% below national average)

    Biggest at-risk economic groups:
    - #1. Below poverty level: 10.0% (26.8% below national average)
    - #2. Uninsured: 6.1% (34.4% below national average)
    - #3. Healthcare workers: 5.1% (7.3% above national average)

    Biggest at-risk epidemiological groups:
    - #1. Hypertension: 30.5% (6.8% below national average)
    - #2. Obese: 27.4% (12.5% below national average)
    - #3. Smokers: 12.2% (26.5% below national average)
    - #4. Asthma: 10.3% (6.5% above national average)

    Compared with the national average, Connecticut has a high number of health care workers who are at the frontlines risking exposure. The state has had one of the highest death tolls in the country.

  • Delaware

    Biggest at-risk demographic groups:
    - #1. Black or African American: 22.1% (44.0% above national average)
    - #2. Rural: 17.9% (36.5% below national average)
    - #3. Seniors (age 65+): 17.6% (13.1% above national average)

    Biggest at-risk economic groups:
    - #1. Below poverty level: 11.9% (12.9% below national average)
    - #2. Uninsured: 6.3% (32.5% below national average)
    - #3. Healthcare workers: 5.2% (8.4% above national average)

    Biggest at-risk epidemiological groups:
    - #1. Hypertension: 34.9% (6.6% above national average)
    - #2. Obese: 33.5% (7.0% above national average)
    - #3. Smokers: 16.5% (0.6% below national average)
    - #4. Diabetes: 11.9% (7.1% above national average)

    Other data insights:
    - Delaware has the #3 highest incarcerated population (0.4%), 15.4% higher than the national average
    - Delaware has the #3 highest rate of cancer diagnosis (0.6%), 18.1% higher than the national average

    Delaware’s senior population, much larger than the national average, is at heightened risk of contracting severe cases of coronavirus. According to the CDC, immune systems weaken with age, diminishing the ability of older people to battle infections.

     

  • District of Columbia

    Biggest at-risk demographic groups:
    - #1. Black or African American: 46.9% (205.6% above national average)
    - #2. Housing structures with 10+ units: 46.2% (292.1% above national average)
    - #3. Seniors (age 65+): 11.9% (23.5% below national average)

    Biggest at-risk economic groups:
    - #1. Below poverty level: 16.8% (23.0% above national average)
    - #2. Food service workers: 8.8% (103.2% above national average)
    - #3. Healthcare workers: 7.2% (50.1% above national average)

    Biggest at-risk epidemiological groups:
    - #1. Hypertension: 26.7% (18.4% below national average)
    - #2. Obese: 24.7% (21.1% below national average)
    - #3. Smokers: 13.8% (16.8% below national average)
    - #4. Asthma: 11.6% (19.9% above national average)

    Other data insights:
    - District of Columbia has the #1 highest homeless population (1.0%), 505.6% higher than the national average
    - District of Columbia has the #1 highest rate of HIV diagnosis (2.4%), 673.7% higher than the national average

    The size of Washington D.C.’s homeless population is the major risk factor for the spread of coronavirus. People who are homeless face a high danger of infection in congregate shelters with shared facilities and little room to practice social isolation or distancing. They also often have chronic health conditions. The District’s homeless population is estimated at about 6,500.

  • Florida

    Biggest at-risk demographic groups:
    - #1. Hispanic/Latino: 25.2% (114.9% above national average)
    - #2. Seniors (age 65+): 19.7% (26.6% above national average)
    - #3. Black or African American: 16.1% (4.9% above national average)

    Biggest at-risk economic groups:
    - #1. Below poverty level: 14.8% (8.4% above national average)
    - #2. Uninsured: 14.5% (56.0% above national average)
    - #3. Food service workers: 4.6% (6.4% above national average)

    Biggest at-risk epidemiological groups:
    - #1. Hypertension: 34.6% (5.7% above national average)
    - #2. Obese: 30.7% (1.9% below national average)
    - #3. Smokers: 14.5% (12.6% below national average)
    - #4. Diabetes: 12.6% (13.4% above national average)

    Other data insights:
    - Florida has the #4 highest rate of HIV diagnosis (0.6%), 97.5% higher than the national average

    A mix of factors add up to higher risks of severe coronavirus cases in Florida—particularly the state’s high number of older residents and a prevalence of diabetes. Also posing a risk is the number of people with HIV diagnoses, nearly twice the national average. People with HIV may have compromised immune systems that would have difficulty fighting off the virus.

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