Top 10 U.S. Metros Most Vulnerable to COVID-19

March 27, 2020
Author: Mara Zemicael

In Florida in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic last week, the state’s emergency management director was planning to set up a 100-bed field hospital near The Villages, a retirement community north of Orlando. Known as the retirement capital of America, the community has the highest concentration of older people in the country.

Older adults are a high-risk group of being negatively affected by coronavirus.

A drive-thru test site for residents driving golf carts was also put up in The Villages, where only a few people were out shopping and eating after a number of group activities were canceled. Residents said they were washing their hands more frequently, postponing their regular medical appointments and staying at home as much as possible.

Most At Risk Stats

As countries struggle to control the spread of COVID-19, public health officials have gained more insight into how the virus spreads and who is at most risk of having complications or dying from the virus. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), eight out of 10 deaths reported in the U.S. have been in adults ages 65 and older. Of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the U.S., these older adults have a higher rate of being hospitalized than other age groups.

Per ThinkWhy’s rankings, below are the top 10 U.S. metro statistical areas (MSAs) with the largest populations consisting of people who are age 64 or older, including The Villages.

U.S. Top 10 Oldest Populations ranking

Most of these metros are in Florida. As of March 23, the Florida Department of Health reported a total of 1,171 confirmed COVID-19 cases. To prevent more instances of the virus, the state has partnered with private laboratories to expand testing options. Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has also ordered a 14-day self-quarantine of people flying into Florida from COVID-19 hot spots, like New York. Though the governor has not issued a statewide shutdown of nonessential businesses, individual Florida counties have.

Similar to other metros in the U.S. the top three occupations in these 10 metros are: food preparation and serving related, office and administrative support, and sales and related. With many businesses in the Leisure and Hospitality industry taking an immediate financial hit brought on by COVID-19 precautions, workers in food preparation and restaurant labor will likely be affected by reduced hours or layoffs. On the other hand, most white-collar and office workers have been able to continue their work from home.

Most common occupations in these 10 metros
The chart above shows the top three occupations in these 10 MSAs.

Back at the drive-through test site at The Villages, about 2,000 people were expected to be tested for coronavirus this week. “We don’t want to get sick here, because most of the people are elderly,” Villages resident Kenneth Miller told

ThinkWhy monitors and forecasts, as we calculate industry and MSAs for impact. The statements in this report are current at the time of publication. We will report and analyze new developments impacting the economy and labor market as they happen. ThinkWhy is here to support businesses and provide insights into these changes – downturn and recovery phases.

Related: Remote Work, Employee Impact and Business Continuity Planning