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Who is at the Greatest Risk from the Coronavirus?

The CDC has updated its list of who is at the greatest risk for severe illness from the coronavirus causing COVID-19. So far, the CDC has identified that the risk for severe illness increases with age. People in their 50s are at higher risk than those in their 40s, and the risk goes up substantially with each decade. They note that 8 out of 10 COVID-19 deaths in the US have been in adults age 65 years and older. In addition, the CDC identifies underlying medical or health conditions that increase risk of severe illness and hospitalization for any age. Specially mentioned are obesity (BMI of 30 or higher), Type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease, COPD, serious heart conditions, those who are immunocompromised from organ transplant, and those with sickle cell disease.

CDC has also identified underlying conditions that MIGHT put people at higher risk, based on limited data: hypertension (high blood pressure), asthma, pregnancy, smoking, liver disease, cystic fibrosis, and those who have a weakened immune system from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or other immune weakening medicines. Other groups that need to take special precautions are healthcare professionals (obviously), and caregivers. It is important to remember that this is a novel (new) virus, that no one on earth had immunity to when it first arrived. Hence, everyone starts out “at risk”. As more is learned about COVID-19 disease, caused by the coronavirus, the CDC will update its guidance. The list was updated June 25, 2020.

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