As coronavirus spreads across the U.S., public health officials are issuing more warnings. Some schools have shut down, and more companies are having employees work from home. While the coronavirus is quite contagious and can be serious, it’s important to know who should be most concerned. While much is still unknown about the virus, it seems that people 50 and over, those with underlying health problems, and nursing home residents are most at risk.

People 60 and Over

The media keeps saying that the elderly – people 50 and over – are most at risk.[1] As offended as you might be to be grouped in with the “elderly,” when it comes to your health, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Older adults are more vulnerable to infection and can have worse responses to respiratory illness than younger people. The New England Journal of Medicine found that the median age of the first 425 people infected was 59.[2] This is typical of the family of viruses the coronavirus belongs to, which also includes the seasonal flu.[3]

Those With Compromised Immune Systems or Underlying Health Problems

Those with chronic illnesses or compromised immune systems are likely more susceptible to the coronavirus and could have more severe reactions. This is also the case with the seasonal flu. The coronavirus affects the part of the lungs where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged. Those with respiratory problems could be particularly at risk. 

Retirement Community, Assisted Living, and Nursing Home Residents

If you or a loved one is in one of these facilities, it’s important to stay alert. The virus could spread more easily among people living in close quarters. Influenza is one of the most commonly reported causes of outbreaks of infectious diseases in nursing homes. This is a major problem when many residents have chronic diseases and other conditions that make contracting viruses more likely and more dangerous. It’s important to know what resources, infection control, and prevention plans a facility has in place, such as how many medical professionals are on staff and how food is distributed.

Make sure to practice preventative hygiene measures like washing your hands frequently with soap and water. If you’re planning on taking a trip, note these 3 ways the coronavirus could affect your travel plans, especially if you’re traveling abroad. As with any infectious disease, be cautious and take care of yourself.