coronavirus covid-19 illustration file photo cdc dark background

This illustration, created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, reveals the structure of the novel coronavirus. The illness caused by this virus has been named COVID-19.

If you’re at all unclear on why it’s so important to protect older folks, especially,  from the coronavirus, take a look at some age-related data from the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Overall, the death rate for COVID-19 in Pennsylvania is just over 5%, with more than 7,900 deaths among the more than 148,000 total cases.

But the rate varies tremendously by age, even though people of all ages contract the virus and spread it.

At one end of the age spectrum, Pennsylvanians under age 20 have accounted for 14,335 cases of COVID-19 as of Sept. 18 — and none of them has died.

At the other end of the spectrum, 268 centenarians in Pennsylvania have contracted COVID-19, and 119 of them — nearly half — have died.

Among COVID-19 patients in their 90s, more than a third died. Among those in their 80s, the virus was fatal to more than a quarter of the people who got it.

Individual risk within any age group will vary based on other health factors, but the high portion of older patients who succumb to the virus illustrates why senior care facilities are working so hard to keep it out — and why health officials are urging younger people to help limit the spread, even if they feel like their own risk of death or serious illness is comparatively low.

Indeed, the risk of contracting COVID-19 does not vary nearly as much by age as the risk of death does.

About 1.2% of Pennsylvanians have tested positive for the virus, and for most adult age groups the the case rate is close to that statewide average.

The lowest rate of COVID-19 cases is among children 9 and younger. Only about 0.2% of them has had a confirmed case of COVID-19. The rate is highest among people 80 and older. About 2.4% of them have tested positive for COVID-19.

It’s the death rate among COVID-19 patients that varies greatly by age.

Here is the percentage of COVID-19 cases that have been fatal for each age group in Pennsylvania.

Age Group

Percentage of cases that were fatal

0-9

0

10-19

0

20-29

0.05%

30-39

0.14%

40-49

0.67%

50-59

1.83%

60-69

6.32%

70-79

15.42%

80-89

27.80%

90-99

37.41%

100 and up

44.40%