The CDC has identified older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung, or kidney disease at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness. According to the CDC, early data suggest older people are twice as likely to have serious COVID-19 illness.
This is likely because as people age, their immune systems change, making it harder for their body to fight off diseases and infection, and because many older adults are also more likely to have underlying health conditions that make it harder to cope with and recover from illness. Age increases the risk that the respiratory system or lungs will shut down when an older person has COVID-19 disease.
What is the Coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some causing illness in people and others circulating among animals, including camels, bats, and cats (PA Department of Health).
The virus causing coronaviruses disease 2019 (COVID-19) is not the same as the coronaviruses that commonly circulate among humans and cause mild illness, like the common cold (CDC). There are many types of human coronaviruses including some that commonly cause mild upper-respiratory tract illnesses. COVID-19 is a new disease, caused be a novel (or new) coronavirus that has not previously been seen in humans.
How does COVID-19 Spread?
The virus is thought to spread mainly between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet) through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes (CDC, 2020). . It also may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads. Learn what is known about the spread of newly emerged coronaviruses on the CDC website.
What are the Symptoms?
Patients have had mild to severe respiratory illness with symptoms of:
- Shortness of breath
Some patients have had pneumonia in both lungs and multi-organ failure.
- Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds
- Maintain at least 3 feet distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing
- When someone coughs or sneezes they spray small liquid droplets from their nose or mouth which may contain virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the droplets, including the COVID-19 virus if the person coughing has the disease.
- Avoid touching eyes, nose, and mouth
- Your hands touch many surfaces and can pick up viruses. Once contained, your hands can transfer the virus to your eyes, nose or mouth. From there, the virus can enter your body and can make you sick
- Practice Respiratory Hygiene
- Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when coughing or sneezing to protect the people around you
- Stay Home or Seek Medical Care Early
- If you are feeling unwell, have a fever or cough and difficulty breathing, please stay home and contact your medical professional
- Stay Informed
Have supplies on hand such as routine medications for blood pressure and diabetes, and over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies to treat fever and other symptoms. Households should also stock up on non-perishable foods in case you have to stay home for a period of time.
- World Health Organization (WHO)
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Pennsylvania Department of Health
- Administration for Community Living (ACL)