CDC Expands List of People At Risk of Severe COVID-19 Illness

June 25, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today updated and expanded the list of who is at increased risk for getting severely ill from COVID-19. CDC says older adults and people with underlying medical conditions remain at increased risk for severe illness, but has further defined age- and condition-related risks.

“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. “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.”

CDC has removed the specific age threshold from the older adult classification. CDC now warns that 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. CDC also updated the list of underlying medical conditions that increase risk of severe illness after reviewing published reports, pre-print studies and various other data sources. There was consistent evidence that specific conditions increase a person’s risk of severe COVID-19 illness:

  • Chronic kidney disease   
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)   
  • Obesity (BMI of 30 or higher)   
  • Immunocompromised state (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

CDC also clarified the list of other conditions that might increase a person’s risk of severe illness, including additions such as asthma, high blood pressure, neurologic conditions such as dementia, cerebrovascular disease such as stroke, and pregnancy. 

In addition, a Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published today further adds to the growing body of research on risk by comparing data on pregnant and nonpregnant women with laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection. Pregnant women were significantly more likely to be hospitalized, admitted to the intensive care unit, and receive mechanical ventilation than nonpregnant women; however, pregnant women were not at greater risk for death from COVID-19.