In my mind’s eye, I thought of Covid 19 as specially targeting the old.
We all know stories of nursing homes packed with sick old folks. But nursing home residents succumb to any sickness more easily than, say, high school kids.
So, is Covid 19 going after old folks in particular, or is Covid 19 just one more way to be killed?
Let’s find out.
The CDC has data for all deaths in the US by week and by age groups. Let’s graph that data in a stacked area graph.
If Covid 19 specially affects old folks, then the bands for older age groups should get thicker during March and April when most US Covid 19 deaths happened.
- 45-54 years
Under 1 year.
A consistent quarter of all deaths are people 85 and up. A little less are in the 75 to 85 age group. And so on.
WARNING! THE SLOPE ON THE RIGHT IS CREATED FROM MISSING DATA. In the US, it takes time for notifications of deaths to get to the CDC. Raw numbers for recent weeks are always low. One thing this graph shows, therefore, is that death reports for 85+ people get to the CDC faster than others.
This graph makes it appear that Covid 19 really has no differential affect on different age groups.
But, is it misleading?
Have you noticed graphs that purport to show information about Covid 19 almost always cut off shortly before Covid 19 was a factor in the US? This one does, too. Uh, huh, Robinson, remove the baseline context from your graph, you sneaky devil, you. Well, is that a problem here?
Well, the CDC also has death-by-age information going back to the beginning of 2015. Slightly different age groups as in the graph above, but good enough for a picture. Let’s look:
- 25-44 years
Under 25 years.
Judging by this graph, if any age group has been hit harder by Covid 19, it’s the 45-64 year group! But look at the first, zoomed-in graph before jumping to that conclusion.
I do not know what’s going on with the ramp-up on the left – early 2015. Looks like a particularly bad season to be 85+. But, it’s on the edge of the graph, so …?
OK. That’s about it. I was thinking wrong. There’s nothing special about how Covid 19 affects old folks.
JSON data behind the graphs (Do not hit these URLs unless you know what you are doing. Your browser may not handle them well.):
JSON 2020 Feb thru mid Aug weekly US deaths by age group
JSON 2015-2020 weekly US death counts – by state and age group – 60 megabytes