Coronavirus

Over-65 population varies across North Carolina

Cleveland Regional Medical Center in Shelby

The coronavirus crisis is growing across North Carolina, with a statewide stay-at-home order going into effect Monday, but the effects could be felt differently from place to place. 

One of the key risk factors for the disease and its severity is the age of people infected. Deaths appear far more common in elderly patients. The Centers for Disease Control says people over 65 are at much higher risk for developing severe illness from the virus, along with people who have underlying health conditions. 

The percentage of people over 65 varies widely across North Carolina, from less than 10 percent to almost 30 percent. The counties with the highest percentage of people over 65 are Polk (29%), Clay (29%), Brunswick (29%), Transylvania (29%) and Cherokee (28%). That could mean some counties end up with a higher percentage of severely ill patients, even if their overall case numbers are not as high as the most populous counties (which tend to have younger average ages).

The distribution of hospitals across the state is also uneven, as the following map shows:

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[Read more: Coronavirus impacts food service workers, who play a major role in our regional economy]