Jul 27, 2020 - Health

Coronavirus deaths skew younger in the South

Data: Kaiser Family Foundation; Graphic: Naema Ahmed/Axios
Data: Kaiser Family Foundation; Graphic: Naema Ahmed/Axios

Adults under 65 make up a higher share of coronavirus deaths in the South than in the Northeast, according to a new analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Why it matters: Downplaying the risk of the virus to younger adults can be dangerous, especially amid the current surge of cases in Southern and Sunbelt states like Arizona and Texas.

By the numbers: Nationally, 80% of coronavirus deaths have been among adults 65 and older, and 33% among those age 85 or older.

  • Adults 65 and older account for the highest share of deaths — 94% — in Idaho and the lowest share of deaths in Washington, D.C., where they account for only 70%.
  • In most states, the share of these older adults who have died from the coronavirus is higher than their share of deaths from all causes.
  • States with higher percentages of deaths among people 65 and older tend to have had a disproportionate amount of deaths occurring in long-term care facilities.

The big picture: The differing age trends of coronavirus deaths are likely a result of states' pandemic policies, the prevalence of preexisting medical conditions in any given state and the racial composition of a state's population, per KFF.

What we're watching: Whether the portion of deaths among older adults will increase in the South as more people 65 and older become infected, particularly in long-term care facilities.

Go deeper: Hotspot states see more COVID cases in nursing homes

Go deeper