CDC Expands List of Individuals at Risk for Severe COVID-19 Illness

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released an update to their previously issued list of who is at a higher risk for getting severely ill from COVID-19.  Published on June 25th, 2020, the newly expanded list still includes older adults and people with underlying medical conditions as the majority of those who are at an increased risk, but has expanded on those age- and condition-related situations.

 Age-Related Risks

The CDC has removed the specific age threshold from the older adult classification. The agency 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.

Recent data, including the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) published on June 19th, 2020, has shown that the older a person is, the higher their risk of severe illness from COVID-19. Age is an independent risk factor for severe illness, but risk in older adults is also in part related to the increased likelihood that older adults also have underlying medical conditions.

Underlying Medical Conditions

The 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 among those resources showing that specific conditions increase a person’s risk of severe COVID-19 illness. Those include:

  • 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

These changes increase the number of people who fall into higher risk groups. An estimated 60 percent of American adults have at least one chronic medical condition. The more underlying medical conditions people have, the higher their risk.

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. Of note, pregnant women who contract COVID-19 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 the virus.

For more information of the latest COVID-19 news and information on how to prevent getting sick, visit the CDC’s website.


NOTE: The details in this blog are provided for informational purposes only. All answers are general in nature and do not constitute legal advice. If legal advice or other expert assistance is required, the services of a competent professional should be sought. The author specifically disclaims any and all liability arising directly or indirectly from the reliance on or use of this blog.
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