COVID-19 is an infection caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, leading to respiratory symptoms. As of June 2022, there have been over 86 million cases of COVID-19 in the United States and over 1 million deaths. The disease has been particularly lethal for older people and those with specific underlying medical problems.
This article will highlight important facts and statistics you should know about COVID-19.
COVID-19 is a respiratory illness that is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It is a coronavirus, a family of viruses that typically leads to mild to moderate upper respiratory symptoms.
Coronaviruses have been around for a long time. Usually, they cause such mild illness that they are not a cause for concern. Infection with a coronavirus is often known as having a “common cold.”
A few concerning coronaviruses have emerged over the last few decades, and they have led to diseases including:
- Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) arising in 2002
- Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome (MERS) occurring in 2012
- Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) emerging in 2019
All coronaviruses, including COVID-19, are spread through respiratory droplets. People can contract the disease from:
- A person coughing and sneezing
- Close touch (like shaking hands) with an infected person
- Touching a surface or object with the virus on it and then touching your mouth or eyes
COVID-19 typically presents with:
- Aches and pains
- Sore throat
Some people, especially older people and those with certain underlying medical conditions, are at higher risk for severe illness and death.
There is no specific treatment available for COVID-19. Certain remedies can help reduce a person’s risk for severe illness and death including:
- Paxlovid (nirmatrelvir with ritonavir)
- Veklury (remdesivir)
- Lagevrio (molnupiravir)
However, the best ways to prevent complications of COVID-19 are to avoid infection and obtain a COVID-19 vaccine.
How Common Is COVID-19?
Since 2020, there have been over 86 million cases of COVID-19 in the United States and over 1 million deaths. It can be challenging to report an accurate number of cases in the United States since many people with mild symptoms will not seek testing or treatment. In addition, the data continually change, especially as waves of variants occur.
Between August 1, 2020, and July 31, 2022, over 5 million people in the United States were hospitalized with COVID-19. Hospitalizations rise and fall with waves of variants. The number of new hospitalizations increased at the end of July 2022, with approximately 6,500 new hospitalizations per day.
Most cases and deaths from COVID-19 have occurred in large metropolitan cities such as Los Angeles and New York. However, no U.S. state is untouched by COVID-19. Furthermore, Phoenix and Miami have been hit particularly hard, with over 1.3 million cases each.
COVID-19 by Ethnicity
Ethnic minority groups have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19 with an increased risk for infection, hospitalization, and death. This effect was more pronounced at the beginning of the pandemic. The group with the highest severe COVID-19 and hospitalization rate has been the Hispanic and Latinx populations.
The population most affected by death from COVID-19 has been changing between 2020 and 2022. In the first months of the pandemic in 2020, people in the Black community were much more likely to die from COVID-19. The Native American population also sustained high case rates and deaths in 2020 and 2021.
In January 2022 and June 2022, the Hispanic population took the lead in rates of death from COVID-19. The death rate among the Black community was also high in January 2022.
Hispanic Population Disproportionally Affected
The Hispanic population represents 18% of the population but represents 24% of all COVID-19 cases.
The trends show that people in the Hispanic and Black communities have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Still, the likelihood of death in the White community has been steadily rising. People of the Asian and Pacific Island communities have generally had lower rates than most other groups.
COVID-19 by Age and Gender
In general, people of all sexes have had equal rates of contracting COVID-19. However, the rates of death have been higher in males. The overall death rate in males has been 1.6 times as high as in females. Experts are not yet sure why this discrepancy exists.
Most cases of COVID-19 in the United States have occurred in people between the ages of 18 to 49. The people most likely to die are those over 65, especially those over 75.
Chance of Infection vs. Death Based on Age
People between the ages of 18 to 29 make up approximately 20% of COVID-19 cases, but people that age make up less than 1% of deaths. In comparison, people over 75 make up approximately 3.5% of cases but 26.5% of deaths.
Causes of COVID-19 and Risk Factors
COVID-19 is caused by the respiratory virus SARS-CoV-2, a coronavirus. The disease spreads through close contact and respiratory droplets. Anyone can contract the virus. However, people with specific underlying medical problems and older adults are more likely to be hospitalized and die from COVID-19.
The primary underlying medical problems that put people at the most significant risk for severe disease include:
- Chronic kidney disease
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Heart disease
Obesity affects over 40% of people in the United States, making COVID-19 a potentially severe disease for a large number of people.
What Are the Mortality Rates for COVID-19?
The mortality rate of COVID-19 in the United States is approximately 1.1%. This estimate describes the percentage of people with COVID-19 who die from the disease. But the risk of death is likely to vary with different viral variants, vaccination, prior infection, and the development and refinement of treatments.
The mortality rate of COVID-19 in older people is much higher than in the general population. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports the number of deaths of people over 65 is 97 times higher than people ages 18 to 29.
Comparing COVID-19 and Influenza
It is challenging to determine the most accurate mortality rates, but scientists estimate that the mortality rate of COVID-19 is 10 times higher than the mortality rate associated with influenza.
COVID-19 is an infection caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The illness leads to upper respiratory symptoms that can be fatal, particularly for people with underlying medical problems and older people. Ethnic minority groups have been disproportionally affected by COVID-19, and males are more likely to die than females.
While the overall mortality rate is 1.2%, this disease can be very severe for older adults and those with some medical issues.
The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.