Who Is At Risk for COVID-19?
Everyone is at risk for contracting the coronavirus. Sadly, no one seems to be immune to it. Yet, some people are at a higher risk of dying from COVID-19, including those with underlying and preexisting conditions — especially respiratory illnesses.
According to the CDC, people who are at greater risk for contracting, developing serious cases, and/or dying of COVID include:
- Elderly patients (specifically those in nursing homes)
- People prone to pneumonia
- Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding
- Homeless individuals
- People with disabilities
- Ethnic and racial minorities
People who live in close quarters with others (like those in nursing homes, homeless shelters, detention centers, group homes, or multi-generational households) are more likely to contract COVID because it’s more difficult to socially distance or quarantine sick patients.
Preexisting conditions that increase a patient’s likelihood of developing severe symptoms of COVID include:
Since COVID is a respiratory illness, anyone with a preexisting condition related to the respiratory system (even if indirectly so, such as heart disease) can develop more severe symptoms or be at a higher risk of dying from the virus.
COVID-19 is somewhat more difficult to diagnose than other viruses and diseases because its symptoms are similar to those used to diagnose the flu and the common cold.
Some symptoms are even similar to MIS-C or PIMS, two inflammatory diseases — especially in children.
The virus has an extremely long incubation period that lasts anywhere between three and five days, meaning a patient could have contracted the virus and not show symptoms for up to 14 days after infection.
This is one of the reasons that the virus spreads so rapidly. A person can easily infect anyone he or she comes into contact with. The chances of spreading the virus are even greater if the infected person and/or people they come in contact with aren’t wearing masks or social distancing.
The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:
- Aches and pains
- Difficulty breathing
- Loss of smell or taste
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
The CDC recommends getting immediate help if you experience any of the following severe symptoms:
- Blue/bluish lips or face
- Constant pain or pressure in the chest
- Difficulty breathing
- Unable to wake or stay awake
While we still have so much to learn about this virus, there are some things we do know about COVID that can help prevent its spread.
Unfortunately, the best ways to prevent the coronavirus include sheltering in place, quarantining if you feel sick or think you may have come in contact with someone who has contracted the virus, and social distancing.
One of the most effective ways to stop the spread of COVID is through testing and tracking. The countries that implemented testing and tracking best practices early on were able to prevent the coronavirus's spread and contain those who had contracted it.
Testing and Tracking
Testing for the coronavirus is somewhat simple now — especially since there are plenty of tests readily available. Some employers require employees to get tested regularly to ensure they don’t spread COVID to coworkers.
Before traveling, some states and countries require people to get a COVID test to prove they haven’t contracted the virus. Now that more and more people are getting tested, it’s easier to find out who has it — and how they got it.
Continuous testing allows the government and researchers to isolate anyone sick and anyone sick people may have infected.
Social distancing is another effective way to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
It simply means that each person should keep their close circle to a small number (generally below 10 people) and limit the number of people each person comes in contact with outside his or her household.
People should maintain a distance of six feet between themselves and those outside of their circle.
If you’re sick or think you may have come in contact with a person with the coronavirus, you should self-quarantine (or get a COVID test) for 14 days.
If you’ve tested positive for the coronavirus, you should self-quarantine. Try not to infect others in your household by isolating yourself and wearing a mask when you need to leave isolation (such as using the bathroom).
It’s important to stay in quarantine for as long as you continue to test positive for COVID — even if you’re not showing symptoms.
Wearing a Mask
Wearing a mask is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
COVID-19 spreads through droplets of saliva and mucus that can travel up to six feet from talking or breathing. Sneezing and coughing can make these droplets travel even further.
Wearing masks around others can help stop the spread.
COVID-19 Treatment Options
If you’ve tested positive for COVID or believe you may have contracted the virus, treatment options can range from quarantining and getting plenty of rest to heading to the hospital for intensive care.
Some of the most common treatment options include:
- At-home urgent care
- Virtual online doctor consultations
- COVID-19 antibody tests
Urgent Care (At-Home Visit)
Some urgent care centers are now offering at-home visits to provide COVID-19 testing and antibody testing.
One of the largest at-home urgent care centers offering this service is Ready Responders.
This urgent care at-home/virtual hybrid will send an EMT to your home (in select cities) and test you for COVID-19.
Online Doctor Consultation (Virtual Visit)
Since most hospitals and urgent care clinics ask patients to avoid heading to the ER unless they need urgent care, online doctor consultations are the way to go if you’re experiencing milder COVID symptoms.
A doctor will do a virtual checkup and recommend heading to a doctor’s office, testing center, or emergency room if it’s likely you’ve contracted the coronavirus.
Most online doctors are offering this service right now.
Antibody tests don’t check for COVID; instead, they check to see if you have COVID antibodies.
Some patients experience extremely mild coronavirus symptoms and don’t even realize they contracted the virus. Checking for antibodies will tell you if you did have COVID at one point.
Doctors and researchers hope that people with COVID antibodies have higher immunity to reinfection.
Some telehealth providers, such as Solv Health, are also offering virtual COVID tests and can even connect you with an urgent care center that’s offering antibody testing.