Over 11 million U.S. adults are at severe risk of critical illness or death if infected with COVID-19. This is based on a special analysis of Gallup National Health and Well-Being Index data examining rates of chronic conditions believed to be key risk factors in addition to smoking rates and population age distribution.
This analysis is not meant to estimate the number of Americans who are at risk of infection, but rather the total number of adults who would have a very high chance of becoming critically ill or dying if 100% of the U.S. population were to become infected with COVID-19. The analysis equally weights age with a composite variable based on respondents’ reports that they have high blood pressure, diabetes, a history of heart attack(s) or cancer, in addition to smoking. In other words, the calculations treat age and health status as equal and independent mortality risk factors. (See the Survey Methods section for a detailed description of the methodology.)