Jun 25, 2020 - Health

CDC expands list of who's most at risk for the coronavirus

Illustration of a crowd of people with a glowing line identifying positive cases of coronavirus 
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded its warnings Thursday to include more demographic groups at risk for the coronavirus such as younger people who are obese and who have underlying health problems.

Why it matters: The shift reflects what states and hospitals have been seeing since the pandemic began, which is that young people can get seriously ill from COVID-19. Much of the directive was focused on those with preexisting conditions and individuals who are 65 or older.

What's happening: Based on several recent studies and reports, the CDC has placed more attention on populations at risk with a number of health conditions:

  • Age: The agency warns that among adults, risk of COVID-19 increases steadily as you age, not just those over 65.
  • Obesity: Those who have a body mass index of 30 or higher. The original warning was for people with a BMI of 40 or more.
  • Pregnancy: Being pregnant may increase one's risk of being hospitalized and having severe illness. In the study, more than 8,000 pregnant women were diagnosed with COVID-19.

Thursday's guidance also categorizes medical conditions that can affect the severity of illness:

  • Conditions that increase risk: Chronic kidney disease; chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; obesity; weakened immune system from solid organ transplant; serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease or cardiomyopathies; sickle cell disease; Type 2 diabetes.
  • Conditions that may increase risk: Chronic lung diseases, including moderate to severe asthma and cystic fibrosis; high blood pressure; a weakened immune system; neurologic conditions, such as dementia or history of stroke; liver disease; pregnancy.
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