APhA coronavirus watch: CDC updates, expands list of who is most at risk

According to CDC, a substantial number of Americans are at increased risk of getting severely ill from COVID-19. Based on the available evidence to date, the agency has further defined its list of who is most at risk.

Under risk related to age, CDC removed the specific age threshold from the older adult classification. Recent data shows that the older people are, the higher their risk of severe illness from COVID-19. “Age is an independent risk factor for severe illness, but risk in older adults is also in part related to the increased likelihood that older adults also have underlying medical conditions,” said CDC in a news release.  

CDC also updated the list of underlying medical conditions that increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Based on consistent evidence, the following conditions increase a person’s risk:

  • Chronic kidney disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Immunocompromised state from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity
  • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Type 2 diabetes

About 60% of adults in the United States have at least one chronic medical condition, according to CDC. Obesity is one of the most common underlying conditions that increases one’s risk for severe illness, and about 40% of adults in the United States are obese. The more underlying medical conditions people have, the higher their risk, CDC stated.

In addition, the agency clarified its list of conditions that might increase a person’s risk. They include: moderate-to-severe asthma, high blood pressure, neurologic conditions such as dementia, cerebrovascular diseases such as stroke, and pregnancy.

“Understanding who is most at risk for severe illness helps people make the best decisions for themselves, their families, and their communities,” said CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, in the news release. “While we are all at risk for COVID-19, we need to be aware of who is susceptible to severe complications so that we take appropriate measures to protect their health and well-being.”