With nearly 75 percent of patients hospitalized for coronavirus being at least 50 years old, and around 90 percent having pre-existing conditions, it’s important for states with larger vulnerable populations to have greater protective measures. Vulnerability isn’t just health-related, though, as many people are harmed by the economic effects of the pandemic. To show where the biggest concentrations of “at-risk” people live, the personal-finance website WalletHub today released its report on the States with the Most Vulnerable Populations to Coronavirus, as well as accompanying videos.
To identify which states have the highest concentration of vulnerable people, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 28 key metrics in 3 overall categories: medical vulnerability, housing vulnerability and financial vulnerability. Our data set ranges from the share of the population aged 65 and older to the share of the homeless population that is unsheltered and the share of the entire population living in poverty. Below, you can see highlights from the report, along with a WalletHub Q&A.
|States with Most Vulnerable Populations||States with Least Vulnerable Populations|
|1. West Virginia||42. Wisconsin|
|3. Mississippi||44. Connecticut|
|4. Arkansas||45. Iowa|
|5. Alabama||46. Montana|
|6. Kentucky||47. Vermont|
|7. Florida||48. Massachusetts|
|8. Tennessee||49. Minnesota|
|9. South Carolina||50. Colorado|
|10. Georgia||51. Utah|
- Florida has the highest share of the population 65 years and older, 19.70 percent, which is 1.9 times higher than in Utah, the lowest at 10.50 percent.
- California has the highest share of the homeless population that is unsheltered, 71.68 percent, which is 33.3 times higher than in North Dakota, the lowest at 2.15 percent.
- Texas has the highest share of the population that is uninsured, 17.40 percent, which is 6.2 times higher than in Massachusetts, the lowest at 2.80 percent.
- Wyoming has the highest share of households in poverty not receiving food stamps, 76.16 percent, which is 1.7 times higher than in Rhode Island, the lowest at 44.21 percent.
- North Carolina has the lowest unemployment recipiency rate, 9.32 percent, which is 6.1 times lower than in New Jersey, the highest at 57.17 percent.
To view the full report and your state’s rank, please visit:
Q&A with WalletHub
Should the U.S. focus primarily on providing medical support during the coronavirus pandemic?
“It’s important for the U.S. to dedicate a large portion of its resources to providing medical support during the coronavirus pandemic, but we should also support people who don’t have adequate housing or enough money to survive the pandemic,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “The financial damage caused by COVID-19 is leaving many Americans without the means to pay their bills and purchase necessities. Coronavirus is especially devastating to people who already lacked basic hygienic living conditions, such as the homeless. The U.S. must continue to support its financially vulnerable populations even after the virus has subsided.”
Is it possible to reopen the economy while still protecting the medically vulnerable?
“It is possible to reopen the economy while protecting the medically vulnerable by having rapid testing and contact tracing of infected people, along with easy access to low-cost deliveries of essential items and special accommodations at all essential businesses to protect the vulnerable,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst.
Why is West Virginia the most vulnerable state during the COVID-19 pandemic?
“West Virginia is the most vulnerable state during the COVID-19 pandemic in part because its citizens have the highest rates of chronic kidney disease, cardiovascular disease, diabetes and COPD, all of which make people more at-risk for serious coronavirus symptoms,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst.
Why does Utah have the least vulnerable population in the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic?
“Utah has far fewer people with pre-existing conditions than most other states, along with the smallest elderly population, which means its citizens have a much lower risk of severe symptoms and hospitalization from coronavirus,” said Jill Gonzalez, WalletHub analyst. “Utah residents are well-prepared financially to survive the pandemic, as the state has the highest percentage of households who saved money for unexpected expenses or emergencies in the past 12 months.”