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By the Numbers: How vulnerable is Harvard’s population to the COVID-19 virus?

For weeks, health experts have warned that people over the age of 60 are the most likely to die if infected by the COVID-19 virus. That warning has been borne out by the rising tally of deaths released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. Protecting vulnerable seniors from the disease is a prime reason for the advice of Harvard’s emergency management team and state officials that residents stay at home and maintain social distancing when venturing outside for exercise or essential shopping.

Of the 11 COVID-19 deaths reported in Massachusetts as of March 24, all but one of the victims were 60 years of age or older. According to Harvard’s 2020 count of adult residents (those aged 17 and older), that’s the age range of 34% of the town’s adult population (see graph). And on average, according to recent Census Bureau data, Harvard’s population is 20% older than the rest of Massachusetts.

Sources: 2020 Town of Harvard Census (17 and older); U.S. Census Bureau and American Community Survey

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