Where Chronic Health Conditions and Coronavirus Could Collide

In Healthcare On
- Updated

As the new coronavirus continues to spread over the next months, and maybe even years, it could exact a heavy new toll in areas of the United States that have not yet seen major outbreaks but have high rates of diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure and other chronic health conditions.

Large parts of the South and Appalachia are especially vulnerable, according to a health-risk index created for The New York Times by PolicyMap, a company that analyzes local health data. The index for the first time identifies counties with high rates of the underlying conditions that increase residents’ risk of becoming severely ill if they are infected with the coronavirus.

Even in lower-risk counties, a significant proportion of the population is living with these conditions.

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