Limited data are available for clinical characteristics of patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outside Wuhan. This study aimed to describe the clinical characteristics of COVID-19 and identify the risk factors for severe illness of COVID-19 in Jiangsu province, China. Clinical data of hospitalized COVID-19 patients were retrospectively collected in 8 hospitals from 8 cities of Jiangsu province, China. Clinical findings of COVID-19 patients were described and risk factors for severe illness of COVID-19 were analyzed. By Feb 10, 2020, 202 hospitalized patients with COVID-19 were enrolled. The median age of patients was 44.0 years (interquartile range, 33.0-54.0). 55 (27.2%) patients had comorbidities. At the onset of illness, the common symptoms were fever (156 [77.2%]) and cough (120 [59.4%]). 66 (32.7%) patients had lymphopenia. 193 (95.5%) patients had abnormal radiological findings. 11 (5.4%) patients were admitted to the intensive care unit and none of the patients died. 23 (11.4%) patients had severe illness. Severe illness of COVID-19 was independently associated with body mass index (BMI) ≥ 28 kg/m2 (odds ratio [OR], 9.219; 95% confidence interval [CI], 2.731 to 31.126; P<0.001) and a known history of type 2 diabetes (OR, 4.326; 95% CI, 1.059 to 17.668; P = 0.041). In this case series in Jiangsu Province, COVID-19 patients had less severe symptoms and had better outcomes than the initial COVID-19 patients in Wuhan. The BMI ≥ 28 kg/m2 and a known history of type 2 diabetes were independent risk factors of severe illness in patients with COVID-19.