At Least Half of American Adults are High-Risk for COVID-19 Death

At Least Half of American Adults are High-Risk for COVID-19 Death March 19, 2020

Friends are circulating this article from Bloomberg, which for some reason is supposed to be reassuring, “99% of Those Who Died From Virus Had Other Illness, Italy Says.” In the sampling of cases, Bloomberg reports that of those who died:

More than 75% had high blood pressure, about 35% had diabetes and a third suffered from heart disease.

So what does that mean for American readers?

The CDC estimates that 13% of Americans have diabetes.  Concerning high blood pressure, from the CDC website:

  • Nearly half of adults in the United States (108 million, or 45%) have hypertension defined as a systolic blood pressure ≥ 130 mm Hg or a diastolic blood pressure ≥ 80 mm Hg or are taking medication for hypertension.
  • Only about 1 in 4 adults (24%) with hypertension have their condition under control.
  • About half of adults (45%) with uncontrolled hypertension have a blood pressure of 140/90 mm Hg or higher. This includes 37 million U.S. adults.

Meanwhile, the American Heart Association reports that 48% of American adults have heart disease.  The CDC’s treasury of sources for statistics on heart disease is here.

Keeping in mind that these three categories overlap significantly, we’re still looking at easily half of all American adults being in the high risk category for COVID-19 death.

Recall that an additional portion of cases are severe enough to require intensive care in order to survive.  Though we cannot have information on the long-term recovery from the disease, we do know that even asymptomatic infection is associated with serious lung damage.  No room for a sigh of relief for anybody, just yet.


  • What More do Old People Have to Give? Someone with diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, or all three, can live for years and years managing the condition . . . if they aren’t killed in the next few weeks.  I’m sorry it needs to be said, but apparently it needs to be said: Losing 5-10% of our collection of comparatively older and sicker people is not what we want.
  • Give Your Bishop the Benefit of the Doubt  Eric Sammons, an author and fellow Catholic I have respected for many years (though I don’t always agree with him), put together a map of the United States, marking in black the dioceses that had suspended public Masses.  As of this morning, the whole nation has gone dark.  It is a chilling visual.  And yet, and in the linked post I use a specific example to show how it might be done, I think we Catholics need, in this instance, to practice the virtue of seeking the most favorable explanation for our neighbor’s behavior.  (And likewise in the other direction.)
  • Making the Mass Present in Your Soul When Your Body Isn’t In which I share a prayer technique that I find helpful, and maybe some others will find beneficial as well.  Your mileage may vary; every soul is unique and unrepeatable. Still, in times of trial it is good to have as many tools in your kit as possible for nurturing your faith.

Meanwhile, the map I wish someone would make next is of the pinpoints of light among all that darkness, with each dot representing the sanctuary lamps still shining brightly.  As consolation, and perhaps as motivation as well, that we up our evangelization game a little?

File:Shepherd rus.jpg

Artwork: Russian icon of The Good Shepherd, with sacred heart imagery, circa 1840, via Wikimedia, Public Domain.

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