People at Higher Risk for Severe Illness

Older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease and those with weakened immune systems seem to be at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness.

Early data suggest older people are twice as likely to have serious COVID-19 illness. On March 22, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated information about those who are at high risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

People at high risk include anyone who:

  • Is 65 years of age or older
  • Lives in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Have a high-risk condition that includes:
    •  chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma
    •  heart disease with complications
    •  compromised immune system
    •  severe obesity - body mass index (BMI) of 40 or higher
    •  other underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled, such as diabetes, renal failure or liver disease

Pregnant women should be monitored closely since they are known to be at risk for severe viral illness. However, data so far on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk for severe COVID-19 illness. While children are generally at lower risk for severe infection, some studies indicate a higher risk among infants. Learn more from the CDC.

What Should High-risk People Do?

NCDHHS recommends that people at high risk of severe illness from COVID-19 stay at home to the extent possible to decrease the chance of infection.

Adult Congregate Living Facilities

NCDHHS recommends that all facilities that serve as residential establishments for high-risk persons described above should restrict visitors. These establishments include nursing homes, independent and assisted living facilities, correctional facilities, and facilities that care for medically vulnerable children.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has additional information for at-risk individuals