The coronavirus might be twice as contagious as experts initially thought, and the risk of serious symptoms has proven to be more pronounced in some populations than others. For example, 89 percent of adults hospitalized for COVID-19 have a pre-existing condition, and nearly 75 percent are over age 50. However, it’s not just the elderly, immunocompromised and other physically vulnerable populations who are at risk during the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to its physical toll, coronavirus is putting significant strain on the finances of American households, which could spell big trouble for people who were already under pressure financially. People with low incomes are less equipped to weather the economic downturn caused by coronavirus, and some states have bigger problems on the horizon than others.
In order to determine the states with the best support systems to protect at-risk populations from COVID-19, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 17 key metrics. Our data set includes factors like whether the state will offer a free coronavirus vaccine once one exists and whether it has adopted long-distance healthcare technology. It also includes metrics such as the coronavirus relief fund per capita and the share of households in poverty receiving social assistance. Read on for the state ranking, additional insight from a panel of experts and a complete description of our methodology.
States Offering the Most Support During the COVID-19 Pandemic
‘Coronavirus Relief & Medical Services’ Rank
‘Food and Housing Assistance’ Rank
‘Unemployment Support’ Rank
|2||District of Columbia||59.36||2||1||43|
Ask the Experts
It’s important to provide as much support as possible to our at-risk population during this difficult time. For additional insight, we turned to a panel of experts. Click on the experts below to read their bios and see their responses to the following key questions:
- In evaluating the states that have protected at-risk population the best in these troubling times, what are the top three most effective measures taken?
- What are the main challenges in providing successful policy interventions for the vulnerable population during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- What can individuals do to help their local at-risk populations?
- What is the role of charities and nonprofits during this pandemic? How can they most effectively serve the vulnerable while maintaining strict safety guidelines?
Ask the Experts
In order to identify the states with the most coronavirus support for people at risk, WalletHub compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across three key dimensions, “Coronavirus Relief & Medical Services,” “Food and Housing Assistance,” and “Unemployment Support.”
We evaluated those dimensions using 17 relevant metrics, which are listed below with their corresponding weights. Each metric was graded on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing the best support.
We then determined each state and the District’s weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.
Coronavirus Relief & Medical Services – Total Points: 60
- Coronavirus Relief Fund per Capita: Full Weight (~4.29 Points)
- Coronavirus Relief Fund per People who Tested Positive: Full Weight (~4.29 Points)
- Waived Cost Sharing for COVID-19 Treatment: Double Weight (~8.57 Points)
Note: This metric measures the presence or absence of waived cost sharing for COVID-19 treatment by state.
- Free-Cost COVID-19 Vaccine When Available: Double Weight (~8.57 Points)
Note: This metric measures the presence or absence of policies offering a free-cost COVID-19 vaccine when available by state.
- Existence of Legislation Capping Insulin Prices: Double Weight (~8.57 Points)
Note: This metric measures the presence or absence of legislation capping insulin prices by state.
- Early Prescription Refills : Full Weight (~4.29 Points)
Note: This binary metric measures the presence or absence of required early prescription refills by state.
- States Opening Emergency Enrollment Period for Uninsured Population: Full Weight (~4.29 Points)
Note: This binary metric measures the status of offering an emergency special enrollment period for qualified individuals who are currently without insurance in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
- Share of Uninsured Population : Full Weight (~4.29 Points)
- Adoption of Telehealth Services: Double Weight (~8.57 Points)
Note: This composite metric includes:
- Patient Setting
- Provider types
- Medicaid Coverage
- States With Temporary Changes Under Approved Medicaid Disaster Relief SPAs: Full Weight (~4.29 Points)
Note: This binary metric measures the presence or absence of temporary changes under approved Medicaid Disaster Relief SPAs by state. The Disaster Relief SPA allows states to make temporary changes to their Medicaid state plans and address access and coverage issues during the COVID-19 emergency.
Food and Housing Assistance – Total Points: 20
- Share of Households in Poverty Receiving Social Assistance: Double Weight (~6.67 Points)
Note: This composite metric includes: the share of households in poverty receiving food stamps and the share of households in poverty receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) and/or Cash Public Assistance Income.
- Share of Elderly Population Served a Home-Delivered Meal: Double Weight (~6.67 Points)
- Share of Sheltered Homeless Population: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
- Number of Permanent Supportive Housing Beds per Homeless Population: Full Weight (~3.33 Points)
Note: Permanent supportive housing (PSH) is a proven solution for the most vulnerable chronically homeless people. PSH ends a person’s homelessness by pairing housing with case management and voluntary supportive services.
Unemployment Support – Total Points: 20
- Unemployment Insurance Recipiency Rate: Double Weight (~8.00 Points)
Note: The Recipiency Rate represents the insured unemployed in regular programs as a percentage of the total unemployed.
- Ratio of Average Weekly Wage Covered by Unemployment Benefit: Double Weight (~8.00 Points)
Note: The Replacement Rate is the ratio of the claimants' weekly benefit amount (WBA) to the claimants' average weekly wage.
- Average Unemployment Weekly Benefit: Full Weight (~4.00 Points)
Note: This metric refers to the average weekly benefit for weeks of total unemployment and has been adjusted for the cost of living.
Sources: Data used to create this ranking were collected from the U.S. Census Bureau, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Labor, Council for Community and Economic Research, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the COVID Tracking Project, Kaiser Family Foundation, GoodRx, American Telemedicine Association and Meals on Wheels America.
Videos for News Use: