1 in 4 N.H adults at risk for developing severe illness from COVID-19 

Monitor staff
Published: 3/4/2021 5:15:08 PM

About a quarter of Granite Staters are at risk of developing a serious illness due to COVID-19, according to data from the Kaiser Family Foundation, a health policy nonprofit.

The vast majority of people who develop symptoms of COVID-19 are able to recover without going to the hospital – some experience such mild symptoms they might not even know they’ve had it. However, for an unlucky minority, the virus has led to long hospital-stays, devastating long-term symptoms and, in the worst cases, death.

Whether the coronavirus presents like a severe cold or a life-threatening illness can depend on certain factors like age, body mass index and preexisting conditions. According to the Kaiser analysis, 41% of residents in the state fall into a demographic that puts them at higher risk.

Generally, this is in line with the rest of the country – 37.6% of Americans fall into the high-risk category.

“These estimates confirm the need to take unprecedented efforts to minimize the spread of the coronavirus,” the report read.

As striking as this number can be, it might be an underestimation. The analysis did not include the estimated 1.3 million older adults living in nursing homes or other congregate living settings. In New Hampshire, about a quarter of hospitalizations and 70% of deaths have been associated with long-term care facilities.

The estimate is based on a 2018 survey conducted by Kaiser Family Foundation that gathered basic health data from each state like the number of people with diabetes, uncontrolled asthma, heart disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and a BMI greater than 40.

Within the northeast, New Hampshire’s has one of the highest rates of people at risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19 due to a health condition. About a quarter of adults under 65 have one of these preexisting conditions– only Maine had comparable statistics.

This is especially worrisome as an unprecedented number of Americans face unemployment, which is often accompanied by a loss of health insurance. An estimated 96,000 people, or 11% of New Hampshire’s adult population, were uninsured in May, an increase of 3% from 2018, according to a report from the National Center for Coverage Innovation.

Age seems to be the prevailing risk factor in New Hampshire. In 2019, nearly 20% of the population was 65 or older, an age demographic that comprises most of the COVID-related deaths in the United States, according to the CDC. Older adults make up more than half of the high-risk group in New Hampshire.

Some of the Granite Staters who fall into this category are now eligible to receive vaccines. The state opened appointment registrations to everyone older than 65 and to those who have two health conditions that put them at risk. Due to new shipments of the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine, the state plans to accelerate the next wave of shots for people over the age of 50 and those who have one underlying health condition.

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