Impact of COVID-19
Coronavirus (COVID-19) disease, caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), started circulating in December of 2019 and rapidly evolved into a global pandemic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the COVID-19 pandemic has claimed more than 987,000 lives across the U.S. as of April 20, 2022, and affected countless others. The pandemic has also disproportionately affected certain racial and ethnic groups, resulting in higher levels of exposure, more severe illness and higher rates of hospitalizations and deaths. In addition, many mitigation strategies have negatively impacted vulnerable populations and worsened long-standing disparities.
Infectious diseases like COVID-19 affect individuals differently. People who get COVID-19 may experience symptoms including but not limited to fever, fatigue and shortness of breath. COVID-19 can cause severe illness and lead to life-threatening outcomes and long-term effects such as fatigue, headaches and mood changes that can last for weeks or months after the initial infection. COVID-19 also poses enormous health, economic and social challenges to the population at large.
After more than two years, there are more tools available to fight the spread of COVID-19 and prevent hospitalizations and deaths, including vaccinations. Still, some communities and people remain at higher risk. Our oldest community members, people with medical conditions, people who are immunocompromised and pregnant women still face many challenges staying healthy during the ongoing pandemic.
As the nation continues to face the effects of the COVID-19 public health crisis, the United Health Foundation remains committed to providing data-driven insights that can help build healthier communities across the country.
The COVID-19 Data now contains 13 measures, with data related to vaccinations and booster doses, as well as case rates, hospitalizations and deaths.
The COVID-19 case rate is one indicator used to track the burden of disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). This report includes two case rate measures: the number of cases per 100,000 population and the number of cases among Medicare beneficiaries per 100,000, the latter of whom are mostly adults ages 65 and older or younger adults with a disability. Case rates are affected by a range of factors, including new emerging COVID-19 variants, vaccination rates, testing and population immunity levels.
Hospitalizations are an important measure of the severity of COVID-19 and the burden on the health care system. This report contains one hospitalization measure: The COVID-19 hospitalization rate among Medicare beneficiaries measures hospitalization rates among a particularly vulnerable population.
Among those who develop COVID-19, some severe cases will result in death. This report contains two death measures: The COVID-19 death rate among the total population indicates the number of deaths directly attributed to COVID-19 disease. The provisional mortality rate gives a more current estimate of deaths from all causes. This rate includes but is not limited to deaths caused by COVID-19. The all-cause mortality rate is important because the COVID-19 pandemic has indirectly increased other causes of death, partially due to strain on the hospital system and people avoiding routine health care during the height of the pandemic. Excess deaths have also been attributed to the worsening of existing health care disparities.
Vaccinations are safe and effective, and are one of the most important tools for reducing the burden of COVID-19. There are currently three vaccines authorized and recommended for use in the United States to prevent COVID-19 infection. Getting more people vaccinated will help slow the spread of the virus and protect against severe illness, hospitalization and death. This report includes measures of primary vaccination, including the percentage of the total population who have been fully vaccinated and the percentage of adults ages 65 and older who have been fully vaccinated, as well as booster doses for the total population and adults ages 65 and older.
What we know about COVID-19 continues to evolve. Continuously updated information and data are available from the CDC, including the CDC COVID DataTracker, as well as the National Healthcare Safety Network, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), state and local public health departments and your health care provider.
Explore Health Topics
In addition to COVID-19 data, America’s Health Rankings presents data on a wide range of health topics for exploration, including health conditions identified as risk factors for more severe illness or death from COVID-19 and other related measures. This section of the website allows users to plot values for the U.S. and the states with the healthiest and least healthy values for selected measures using a comparison plot. It also offers a heatmap display that allows users to see associations across measures.