Everyone is at risk for contracting COVID-19 if exposed to the virus. However, some people are at higher risk than others and more likely to become severely ill. Those at higher risks may require hospitalization, intensive care, a ventilator, or the virus could kill them. Based on a detailed review of available evidence to date, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has updated and expanded the list of who is at an increased risk for becoming severely ill from COVID-19.
While older adults (ages 65+) and people with underlying medical conditions remain at an increased risk for severe illness, the CDC has now further defined age and condition related risks. The CDC has removed the specific age threshold from the older adult classification and now warns that among adults, risk increases steadily as you age, and it’s not just those over the age of 65 who are at increased risk for severe illness. The CDC also updated the list of underlying medical conditions that increase risk of severe illness after reviewing published reports, pre-print studies, and various other data sources.
People of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19:
- Chronic kidney disease
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
- Obesity (BMI of 30 or higher)
- Immunocompromised state from solid organ transplant
- Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
- Sickle cell disease
- Type 2 diabetes
The CDC also clarified the list of other conditions that might increase a person’s risk of severe illness:
- Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
- Cerebrovascular disease
- Cystic fibrosis
- Immunocompromised state from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
- Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
- Liver disease
- Pulmonary fibrosis
- Type 1 diabetes mellitus
These changes increase the number of people who fall into higher risk groups. An estimated 60 percent of American adults have at least one chronic medical condition. Obesity is one of the most common underlying conditions that increases one’s risk for severe illness, with about 40 percent of U.S. adults having obesity. The more underlying medical conditions people have, the higher their risk.
Protecting yourself, your family, and your community
Unfortunately, every activity that involves contact with others has some degree of risk. It is important to know if you are at an increased risk for severe illness and understand the risks associated with different activities. This information is especially critical as communities across the state continue to reopen.
As always, everyone should continue to do their part to implement prevention strategies, such as participating in activities where social distancing can be maintained, washing hands frequently, limiting contact with and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces or shared items and wearing a cloth face covering when around non-household members, especially when it is difficult to stay 6 feet apart or when indoors. By taking these steps, you can help protect yourself, your loved ones, and others around you, including those most vulnerable to severe illness.