Although there's still much we don't know about COVID-19, some things have become more clear as evidence and data have accumulated about the disease. For instance, the list of risk factors that lead or might lead to more serious illness from COVID-19 keeps growing.
Those at higher risk include:
You can find a full of list of health conditions that increase your risk from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What does that mean for you?
If you're in one of these higher-risk categories, you may wonder what you can do to protect yourself. Start with the basics:
These are the same precautions you should take to avoid catching any infectious disease. But COVID-19 seems more contagious than, say, the flu, and causes more serious illness than the flu in some people. So there are extra steps everyone should take to lessen the risk for infection. For instance:
In addition to those steps, people at higher risk should try to:
Cancel travel plans. Especially avoid all cruise travel and nonessential air travel.
Separate yourself. If possible, set aside a protected space in your house just for you, away from healthy family members.
Plan ahead. While you're still well, gather the phone numbers of your doctor, pharmacy and insurance provider in one place. Have enough medical supplies, household items and groceries on hand so you will be prepared to stay at home for several weeks if needed. If you have diabetes, keep simple carbs like regular soda, honey, gelatin-based desserts (like Jell-O), hard candies or popsicles at the ready to raise your blood sugar if it gets too low.
Be smart about meds. If you can't get to the pharmacy, see if you can get your prescriptions delivered. Or get extra refills so you don't have to leave the house.
Create a safety net. If you live alone, get contact information for your neighbors, friends and colleagues in case you need help.
Give telemedicine a try. Keep up with routine medical visits via Skype, FaceTime or a telemedicine service rather than in person.
Be kind to yourself
Social distancing and worrying about your health can be super-stressful. To take good care of your mental health, remember these coping techniques: