ATLANTA - According to a recent report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40% of all U.S. adults have at least one underlying health condition that put them at risk of developing severe illness if they were to contract the novel coronavirus.
The CDC’s report indicated that the Southeast, which has become one of the hardest-hit regions of the country as the coronavirus rapidly spreads through states like Florida and South Carolina, has a high prevalence of preexisting conditions — as does the virus-besieged state of Texas.
“Counties with the highest prevalences of any condition were concentrated in Southeastern states, particularly in Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, and West Virginia, as well as some counties in Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, and northern Michigan, among others,” the CDC’s report read.
Florida recorded 173 new coronavirus deaths on July 23, a daily high that pushed its toll from the pandemic to more than 5,500. The state has continued to report high numbers of daily new cases.
On July 21, it was reported that approximately 19% of coronavirus tests had returned positive in Florida over the prior week. That figure has plateaued over the last two weeks, a sign that the spread might be slowing, but it is double compared to the 10% rate of a month ago and well above the state’s 2.3% in late May.
On July 16, Texas set its new daily record for virus deaths, with 129, and reported more than 10,000 confirmed new cases for a third consecutive day.
In Alabama, more than 40 people were infected with the coronavirus on July 27 after attending a multi-day revival event at a north Alabama Baptist church, according to the congregation's pastor.
Late last month, the CDC made revisions to its list of underlying medical conditions that would be exacerbated if individuals with the health concerns were to contract the novel coronavirus and develop COVID-19.
The latest additions to the list include:
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Obesity (BMI of 30 or higher)
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
- Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
- Sickle cell disease
- Type 2 diabetes
“COVID-19 is a new disease. Currently there are limited data and information about the impact of underlying medical conditions and whether they increase the risk for severe illness from COVID-19,” according to the CDC.
Along with revising its list of illnesses that may put an individual who becomes sick with the coronavirus at high risk, the CDC also removed the specific age threshold from the older adult classification. “CDC now warns that among adults, risk increases steadily as you age, and it’s not just those over the age of 65 who are at increased risk for severe illness,” the health agency wrote on its website on July 17.
FILE - FILE - U.S. President Donald Trump looks at a map while speaking during a news conference about his administration's response to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic at the White House on July 23, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
“Understanding who is most at risk for severe illness helps people make the best decisions for themselves, their families, and their communities,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield in the report regarding revisions to the agency’s list of high risk individuals. “While we are all at risk for COVID-19, we need to be aware of who is susceptible to severe complications so that we take appropriate measures to protect their health and well-being.”
The underlying conditions delineated by the CDC represent a growing list of illnesses that would cause a person to be at high risk of developing serious health problems or of dying due to the novel coronavirus.
According to the CDC, people with the following conditions might be at an increased risk of developing severe illnesses from COVID-19:
- Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
- Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
- Cystic fibrosis
- Hypertension or high blood pressure
- Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
- Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
- Liver disease
- Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
- Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
- Type 1 diabetes
About 4.2 million confirmed COVID-19 cases have been reported in the United States, and there have been more than 146,000 deaths.
Elderly housing facilities account for a disproportionately large share of U.S. deaths from COVID-19, more than 37,000 fatalities among nursing home residents according to federal estimates, and more than 57,000 in an ongoing tally by The Associated Press, which also counts other long-term care facilities, and staff as well as residents, as of July 7.
The AP’s count would represent about 40% of more than 142,000 U.S. deaths. Nursing home residents account for only about 1% of the U.S. population.
The Associated Press contributed to this story. This story was reported from Los Angeles.