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Dabrowski: Who’s most at risk for COVID-19 and why isn’t Illinois publishing that data?

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By Ted Dabrowski - 

How many Illinoisans with pre-existing conditions – like diabetes, hypertension, obesity or cardiac arrest – have died as a result of being infected with COVID-19? Or, the opposite. How many people with pre-existing conditions got the virus and survived? Or, how many young residents, with no pre-existing conditions, have succumbed to COVID-19?

The answers to those questions and many more should be readily available to all Illinoisans, especially as the economy begins to gradually open up and people make new decisions about what lifestyle risks to take. Illinoisans have a right to this information and the state should make such science and data public. But it doesn’t.

A comorbidity report – which highlights which deaths were accompanied by a pre-existing condition – is one of the key pieces of data still missing from Illinois’ daily COVID-19 update. That should change immediately. 

Whether or not somebody has an underlying chronic condition seems to be the single biggest determinant of whether that person will be hospitalized or die from COVID-19. That’s according to the CDC, which says 90 percent of all virus hospitalizations had pre-existing conditions. Other state and local data put the percentage of deaths accompanied by pre-existing conditions even higher. So you’d think with more than 3,200 deaths in Illinois, the state’s Department of Public Health would publish the information on how many of those deaths had underlying causes. But it doesn’t.

We do know that the virus hits the elderly the hardest and that there’s a high correlation between age and pre-existing conditions. That’s intuitively obvious. But by not providing the data directly to the public, Illinois officials leave many, many questions unanswered.

Start with Illinois’ most vulnerable demographic – those over 60. Over 86 percent of Illinois’ 3,241 deaths were in the over-60 age group.

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