Approximately 50% of adults have one or more chronic conditions that put them at high risk for poor outcomes in COVID-19, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Investigators estimated the prevalence for five chronic conditions linked to severe COVID-19 across more than 3,100 U.S. counties in 2018. Overall prevalence ranged from 30% for obesity to 3% for kidney disease, reported lead investigator Hilda Razzaghi, Ph.D., and colleagues. The other conditions studied were diabetes (11% prevalence), chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (7%), and heart disease (7%). 

Although urban areas had greater numbers of people with these five conditions, prevalence was higher in rural counties.

The burden of COVID-19 risk related to chronic disease climbs steeply in older adults. More than 66% of adults aged 70 or more years have an underlying condition that puts them at increased risk of severe disease if infected, wrote the authors of another study, published in June. That’s compared with 5% of people younger than 20 years.

Previous CDC research has found that adults with at least one underlying condition were six times more likely to be hospitalized and 12 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than those with no chronic conditions. 

The new findings were published Friday in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.