HealthDay News — Forty-one percent of adults ages 18 years and older in the United States have an elevated risk for developing serious illness if infected with the new coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19), according to a brief issued by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF).

Wyatt Koma, from the KFF Program on Medicare Policy in San Francisco, and colleagues analyzed data from the 2018 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System to estimate the total number of adults with an elevated risk for serious illness if they are infected with COVID-19.

The researchers found that 41 percent of adults aged 18 years and older have a higher risk for developing serious illness if infected with COVID-19. Most of those at higher risk are older adults (age ≥60 years; 72.4 percent or 76.3 million adults), but 29.2 million younger adults (ages 18 to 59 years) are at risk due to underlying medical conditions.

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The risk for developing severe illness if infected is even greater for those who are older and have underlying medical conditions; 54 and 62 percent of adults aged 60 years and older and aged 80 years and older have serious medical conditions, respectively. An estimated 5.7 million adults who are at higher risk for developing a serious illness if infected with COVID-19 are uninsured.

“Given the paucity of data at this stage of the pandemic, and the high stakes involved for people who do get seriously ill, these estimates confirm the need to take unprecedented efforts to minimize the spread of the coronavirus,” the authors write.

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