Health and Healthcare Systems

Over 40% of Americans are more at risk of severe COVID-19

People wait in line for free groceries distributed by the Chelsea Collaborative in a city hard hit by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Chelsea, Massachusetts, U.S., July 22, 2020.   REUTERS/Brian Snyder - RC2OYH9PQJK8

Over 40% of Americans are at risk of severe effects from COVID-19. Image: REUTERS/Brian Snyder

Niall McCarthy
Data Journalist, Statista
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on Health and Healthcare Systems?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how COVID-19 is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:


  • Over 40% of Americans have underlying health conditions that could cause severe COVID-19.
  • These health conditions include obesity, diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cardiovascular disease.
  • The counties with the highest prevalences of any condition were concentrated in Southeastern states including Alabama, Arkansas and Kentucky.

Several studies have found that the risk of contracting severe Covid-19 that can result in hospitalization, ICU admission, mechanical ventilation or death increases with age as well as the presence of underlying health conditions. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a study showing that a considerable share of the American population has some form of underlying health issue, placing them at risk from severe forms of the virus. The study's findings are based on the 2018 Behavioural Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) and U.S. Census population data and it determined that 40.7 percent of U.S. adults (aged 18 and over) have a pre-existing health condition.

Have you read?

The most prevalent condition in the study is obesity, affecting just over 30 percent of Americans and it followed by diabetes which has a national prevalence of 11.2 percent. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cardiovascular disease have a prevalence of just under 7 percent while chronic kidney disease is at approximately 3 percent. The CDC stated that "while the estimated number of persons with any underlying medical condition was higher in population-dense metropolitan areas, overall prevalence was higher in rural nonmetropolitan areas". It also added that "the 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".

Over 40% of U.S. adults are susceptible to severe COVID-19.
Over 40% of U.S. adults are susceptible to severe COVID-19. Image: Statista
Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Scientists make pancreatic cancer discovery, and other top health stories to read

Shyam Bishen

July 17, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Sign in
  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum