Citing new evidence from the ever-growing amount of COVID-19 data, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have revised their earlier recommendations, expanding the list of those at the highest risk during the coronavirus pandemic.
While once considered a well-known fact about COVID-19 that anyone 65 or older is more likely to experience severe illness when infected, the CDC now says it isn’t that simple. In a public statement addressing the change, the agency warns, “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.” In other words, “the older people are, the higher their risk of severe illness from COVID-19.”
At the same time, the CDC expanded the list of possible underlying conditions that can dramatically increase the risk of extreme illness. Careful to split the list between those that scientists know for sure increase a person’s risk and those that they only highly suspect, the CDC now advises caution for 19 different conditions.
The “clear evidence” list includes chronic kidney disease, sickle cell disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and others. Meanwhile, the list of potential risk-forming conditions contains the likes of smoking, pregnancy, high blood pressure, and even neurological conditions such as dementia.
With the changes, the CDC warns that far more Americans fall into the high-risk category of individuals than previously thought. Emphasizing that roughly 60% of American adults have at least one chronic medical condition, they also point out that about 40% of American adults have obesity.
As daily confirmed COVID-19 case totals continue to skyrocket around the country, health experts continue to plead for communities to socially distance. CDC Director Robert Redfield, M.D., said in the agency’s statement, “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.”
To view the full list of high-risk conditions, you can see more on the CDC website.
These updates come soon after the FDA made multiple public revisions of their own, rescinding emergency use authorizations for hydroxychloroquine and updating the guidance for remdesivir, two drugs once hoped to be treatments for COVID-19.