COVID-19: Advice for People at High Risk

Overview

COVID-19 causes a mild illness in many people who have it. But certain things may increase your risk for more serious illness. These include:

  • Being age 65 or older.
  • Smoking.
  • Living in a long-term care facility.
  • Having ongoing serious health issues. Some examples are:
    • Chronic lung disease or asthma.
    • Heart problems.
    • A weakened immune system.
    • Cancer treatment.
    • Diabetes.

This is not a complete list. If you have a chronic health problem, ask your doctor if you should take extra precautions during the outbreak.

If you are pregnant, it's safest to consider yourself at higher risk. It's not known yet whether COVID-19 is dangerous for you or your baby. But pregnancy increases the risk for serious illness from viruses similar to COVID-19.

  • Stay home.
    • Stay home as much as you can. This may be the easiest way to avoid exposure, as long as no one else in your household has the virus.
    • If there are a lot of COVID-19 cases in your community, do not leave your home except to seek medical care.
    • Limit visitors right now. It's especially important to avoid contact with anyone who is sick or who might have been exposed. Remember that people may have been exposed without knowing it or having any symptoms.
    • Have enough food, medicines, and other supplies on hand so that you don't have to go out. Try some of these options if you don't have what you need.
      • Use delivery and takeout services for groceries and meals.
      • Have a healthy family member, friend, or neighbor shop for you.
      • Ask your doctor for extra prescription medicine.
    • Routinely clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces. These include countertops, faucets, door handles, doorknobs, and phones.
    • Do not travel.
  • Wash your hands often and well.
    • Wash your hands often, especially after you cough or sneeze. Use soap and water, and scrub for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water aren't available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Be extra careful if you have to go out.
    • Avoid crowds and crowded places. Try to keep 6 feet of space between yourself and others.
    • Don't use public transportation, ride-shares, or taxis unless you have no choice.
    • Try not to touch things that many other people have touched. Door handles, elevator buttons, shopping cart handles, and handrails on escalators get a lot of touches.
    • Carry tissues or paper towels with you. If you must touch something, you'll be able to protect your hands.
    • Don't shake hands with anyone. Try a friendly wave instead.
    • Don't touch your face, and wash your hands often.
    • Wash your hands again as soon as you get home.
  • Know when to call your doctor.
    • Call a doctor if you have symptoms of COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath). If you are told to get testing or care and must go out, wear a cloth face cover.

Related Information

Credits

Current as of: June 18, 2020

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Heather Quinn MD - Family Medicine
Lesley Ryan MD - Family Medicine