Feb 15, 2022 - News

Most local COVID deaths involve chronic conditions

Comorbidities reported in confirmed Travis County COVID-19 deaths
Reproduced from Austin Public Health; Chart: Axios Visuals

Local health officials have released new data that reveals virtually everyone who died from COVID-19 in Austin-Travis County had chronic health conditions.

The big picture: At least 1,282 people have died from the coronavirus in the last two years, and local health officials found that 95% of those victims had at least one comorbidity.

  • More than half had two or more.
  • Hypertension, diabetes and cardiac disease accounted for many of the underlying conditions associated with local COVID deaths, city data shows.

Why it matters: The figures give us a better understanding of who is most at-risk for severe illness and makes it all the more important to increase vaccinations, health officials say.

  • "Much of our community is at high risk for COVID-19 due to comorbidities," said Desmar Walkes, Austin-Travis County Health Authority. "These patients often experience severe symptoms of the virus, which can mean longer hospital stays and death."
  • Residents with medical conditions should get vaccinated and boosted as soon as possible, Walkes added.

Of note: People from racial and ethnic minority groups often develop chronic medical conditions at younger ages, leaving them more susceptible to the worst of COVID-19, per the CDC. A number of factors — including discrimination, health care access, occupation and wealth gaps — contribute to those disparities.

  • In Austin-Travis County, 49.3% of COVID deaths are among people identified as Hispanic. Black Americans account for 11.6%.

Local vaccine sites have seen a recent drop in demand, according to Cassandra DeLeon, chief administrative officer for disease prevention and health promotion at Austin Public Health.

About 72% of eligible Travis County residents are fully vaccinated, according to state data.

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