By Joshua Huff, sports editor
A health-risk index that was developed to identify counties throughout the country with high rates of underlying preexisting conditions shows that Alabama is home to six of the 11 highest-risk counties where COVID-19 cases are growing.
The index, which was developed by PolicyMap for The New York Times, is based on an “estimated proportion of adults in each country who have one or more of these conditions: diabetes, high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease and chronic lung disease.”
The data comes from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In Alabama, where many of its counties have more than 40% of its adult population categorized as obese, six counties are currently witnessing a one-week growth rate in COVID-19 cases. Those counties are labeled as the highest health risks in the nation where COVID-19 cases are growing:
- Butler County
- Dallas County
- Bullock County
- Lowndes County
- Choctaw County
- Marengo County
Data shows that COVID-19 has been harsh for seniors, who are hospitalized and die at higher rates than younger people. The Alabama Department of Public Health reports that those with cardiovascular disease make up 64% of the confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the state. Those with multiple underlying medical conditions consist of 55.8% of COVID-19 deaths in Alabama.
The ADPH adds that nearly 73% of deaths occur in those 65 years or older.
Looking at data closer to home, Jefferson County is categorized as a medium-high health risk with a one-week growth rate of 2%. The county’s percentage rate of obesity it 35%, diabetes is at 13%, those diagnosed with high blood pressure is at 41%, lung disease is at 8% and heart disease is at 5%.
St. Clair County is also labeled as a medium-high health risk with a one-week growth rate of 2%.
The index highlights the need for policymakers to identify high-risk communities and introduce more testing to prevent a future outbreak that can wreak havoc throughout a population filled with high-risk people.