People with underlying health conditions are six times more likely to be hospitalized with severe COVID-19 illness and 12 times more likely to die of the disease than otherwise healthy coronavirus patients, according to a new analysis by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The most common underlying health conditions for COVID-19 patients are cardiovascular disease, lung disease and diabetes, the CDC said Monday.
In an analysis of more than 1.3 million COVID-19 cases, the agency found 15 percent of patients were hospitalized and 5 percent died, though the true fatality rate is likely lower because people with mild or no symptoms are least likely to be tested.
The report indicates the likelihood of severe illness and death increases with age, particularly among men and people with underlying health conditions. Death was most commonly reported among patients 80 and older, regardless of whether they had an underlying health condition.
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to be severe, particularly in certain population groups,” the CDC said.
While average daily reported cases and deaths are declining, the report said, there are still signs of ongoing community transmission across the country.
COVID-19 has swept through nursing homes, killing at least 32,000 residents, according to recent data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).
Older people are more likely to have weakened immune systems and underlying health conditions.
Overall, incidence rates for COVID-19 were higher among people between the ages of 40 and 59 than those between the ages of 60 and 79, though the report does not indicate why.
Incidence rates were highest among people 80 and older, with about 900 cases per 100,000 people in that age group, and lowest for children, possibly because they’re not showing symptoms or are experiencing mild illness.
Still, younger people are not immune to COVID-19, especially if they have underlying health conditions. People between the ages of 20 and 29 accounted for 14 percent of confirmed infections; of the confirmed cases in that age group, 4 percent needed hospitalization.
The hospitalization rate for 20- to 29-year-old patients was more than four times higher for those with underlying health conditions.
People between the ages of 30 and 39 accounted for 16 percent of infections. Nearly 6 percent needed hospitalization, but the rate of hospitalization was four times higher for those with underlying health conditions.
The report also showed racial and ethnic disparities.
Among the 600,000 cases with information on race and ethnicity, 33 percent were Hispanic, 22 percent were black and 1.3 percent were American Indians or Alaskan Natives, despite accounting for 18 percent, 13 percent and 0.7 percent of the U.S. population, respectively.
Severe COVID-19 outcomes were more commonly reported among men, according to the report, but it is not clear why.