It’s well known that the coronavirus is much deadlier to older people than younger ones, even though many younger people — and a growing proportion of college-age adults — contract COVID-19.
So while the state has had more than 146,000 cases and 7,800 deaths since March, the impact has varied widely by age in Pennsylvania.
According to an LNP | LancasterOnline analysis of Department of Health and U.S. Census data, people in their 60s are the only age group on which the virus has had a roughly proportionate impact.
People in their 60s make up 12.8% of the state’s population and have accounted for 11.9% of its COVID-19 cases and 13.9% of its deaths so far.
For every other age group, the impact is significantly skewed, either on cases, deaths or both.
At the far end of the spectrum, people 80 and older make up 4.7% of the state’s population and account for 9.8% of COVID-19 cases and 57.1% of deaths.
That’s a death rate that’s 12 times its share of the population.
At the low end of the spectrum, children 9 and younger make up 11.0% of the population and account for 2.1% of the COVID-19 cases and none of the state’s deaths.
On Monday, Dr. Rachel Levine, the state's health secretary, singled out a very specific age group, and appealed for its help in controlling the spread of the virus.
She noted that cases are jumping sharply among 19-24-year-olds due to outbreaks on college campuses, and she appealed to students to “protect yourselves, your friends and others in the community” by wearing masks, socially distancing, washing hands and isolating if they test positive for COVID-19.
In northeastern Pennsylvania, the portion of new cases among the 19-24 age group jumped from 7% in April to 69% so far in September, Levine said. In the state’s northeast, it grew from 6% in April to 40% so far in September.
Here is the breakdown for each age group in Pennsylvania, showing its portion of the population, according to the U.S. Census, and its share of cases and deaths from March through Sept. 14, as reported by the state Department of Health:
% of PA population
% of PA cases
% of PA deaths
80 and up