8 in 10 People Who Have Died of COVID-19 Were Age 65 or Older

Political views influence how seriously many people take the COVID-19 situation. One thing, however, is not in dispute. COVID-19 has taken its greatest toll among older adults in the US in terms of cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

Months into the pandemic, older adults continue to be one of the populations most at risk of becoming seriously ill and dying from COVID-19. A new KFF analysis of data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows that adults 65 and older account for 16% of the US population but 80% of COVID-19 deaths in the US, somewhat higher than their share of deaths from all causes (75%) over the same period. The share varies considerably by state -- from a high of 94 percent in Idaho to a low of 70 percent in the District of Columbia.

The analysis finds that states that have seen the largest share of COVID-19 deaths among people 65 and older include those that have had a disproportionate number of deaths in long-term care facilities. These states include Idaho (with 94% of deaths among those 65 and older), New Hampshire (92%), Massachusetts (90%), Rhode Island (90%), Minnesota (89%), Connecticut (89%), Pennsylvania (87%), Ohio (86%), Kentucky (84%), and Delaware (83%).

States in which deaths among those 65 and older account for a somewhat lower share of all COVID-19 deaths compared to the national average are in the South and Sun Belt. Many of these states are hotspots where the virus has surged more recently and where deaths among older adults may be lagging. Tennessee is in this group, with 76% of all COVID-19 deaths among those 65 and older.

Around the country, states have put in place a variety of policies regarding COVID-19, and on different timetables, which have contributed to different case trajectories and could result in variations across states in the proportion of COVID-19 deaths among older people. Other factors that may contribute to these differences include the prevalence of underlying medical conditions and racial composition of each state’s population.

More than a month after many states reopened businesses and public facilities, COVID-19 appears to be coming back with a vengeance. People over age 65 continue to face the highest risks. No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, please do your part to minimize the spread of this virus to seniors.  

Source: Kaiser Family Foundation

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