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These 6 Factors Affect If You Live or Die From COVID

Not all of us have the same risk. See where you stand, according to scientists.

Coronavirus doesn't discriminate—anyone can develop COVID-19. But the sad fact is that not everyone has the same risk of developing a severe case or ultimately dying of the illness. Wide-ranging studies have found that there are six factors that heavily influence whether you're more likely to live or die from COVID-19 infection. Click through to assess your risk. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss this list of Sure Signs You've Had Coronavirus.


Your Race Can Increase Your Chances of Death

Unfortunately, the statistics are pretty stark here: According to CDC data, Black, Latino and Native American people are nearly three times as likely to be infected with COVID-19 than whites and five times as likely to be hospitalized. People of color are also much more likely to die of coronavirus: For example, Black Americans are 3.7 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than their white counterparts.


Your Weight Can Increase Your Chances of Death

Obese woman at a carnival

One little number has an outsize influence on whether you live or die from COVID-19: Your BMI, or body mass index. A May 2020 study published in the British Medical Journal found that people who are obese (that is, who have a BMI over 30) were four times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID than people with a BMI under 30. Another analysis of more than 400,000 COVID-19 patients found that obesity doubled the risk of becoming critically ill and almost quadrupled the risk of dying.


Your Pre-Existing Conditions Can Increase Your Chances of Death

Doctor making blood sugar test in clinic for diabetes

According to the CDC, 41% of Americans have pre-existing conditions such as cancer, chronic kidney disease, COPD, a weakened immune system, obesity, heart disease, and Type 2 diabetes. The chance of being hospitalized with the coronavirus is six times greater, and the chance of dying is 12 times greater, if you do.


Your Age Can Determine Your Risk

Advancing age increases your risk of having severe COVID-19, and of dying from it. About 80 percent of COVID-19 deaths have been in people over 65. A July study done by the UK's National Health Service found that patients above the age of 80 were at least 20 times likelier to die from COVID-19 than patients in their 50s, and hundreds of times likelier to die from COVID-19 than patients younger than 40.


Your Sex Can Determine Your Risk

Front view of business people wearing protective masks in the office during the quarantine period

The NHS researchers also found that men were about 59% more likely to die from COVID-19 than women. Scientists aren't certain why. One theory is that because the immune system is highly influenced by the X chromosome (and women have two, compared to male's XY), female bodies may be more adept at fighting off the virus.


Where You Live Can Indicate Your Risk

A New Hampshire farmer sits on his tractor

Nearly 46 million Americans—15% of the nation's population—live in rural areas. According to the CDC, they face an increased risk of severe COVID-19. Rural dwellers tend to be older, have less access to healthcare and health insurance, and have higher rates of obesity, hypertension, disabilities and tobacco use—all factors that increase your risk of dying of coronavirus—than their urban counterparts.


How to Keep Yourself Safe From COVID-19

family with dad, mom and daughter staying at home wearing facial masks

As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place: Wear a face mask whenever you're in public, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds, practice six feet of social distancing, wash your hands regularly, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 37 Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael
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