Here’s how you can help loved ones at higher-risk for coronavirus

The CDC recommends the following of family members of people in at-risk groups.

Concerns about the new coronavirus may leave some especially worried about their loved ones — especially with Gov. Brian Kemp reopening the economy in late April.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions are particularly at higher risk for contracting the new virus. The CDC outlines chronic medial conditions as those including heart disease, diabetes and lung disease.

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For heart disease, that includes coronary artery disease, which is caused by plaque buildup in the wall of the arteries that supply blood to the heart. Lung diseases include asthma, lung cancer and a collapse of part or all of the lung.

As for who is considered an older adult, infectious disease experts define it as people who are age 60 and up, according to CNN.

When it comes to talking to loved ones who are considered to be at higher risk of COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019, there are certain things that can be done.

Offering support

The CDC recommends the following of family members of people in higher-risk groups:

  • Be aware of the medications and see if you can help out
  • Monitor stock of food and medical supplies, including those needed for oxygen, wound care, dialysis and incontinence to name a few.
  • Have a supply of non-perishable food in stock to decrease the need for trips to the store.
  • If a loved one lives in a care facility, keep an eye on the situation and ask often about the health of other residents. Learn the protocol should an outbreak occur.

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There are also other groups who may be more at risk of contracting the coronavirus, including pregnant women.

“We don’t have a lot of information about how COVID-19 affects pregnant women specifically, but we do have some information from a small number of pregnant women with COVID-19 in China during the current outbreak, and from pregnant women infected with other coronaviruses like Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in past outbreaks,” Dr. Fatu Forna, obstetrician gynecologist women’s services operational lead for maternity and gynecologic surgical services redesign at Kaiser Permanente told the AJC.

“Pregnant women are usually at risk of getting very sick when they contract other respiratory infections like influenza and SARS – they can go into preterm labor, have miscarriages and stillbirths, and end up needing intensive care treatment.”

She said there was a small study of women in China who had COVID-19 that found babies born to women infected during the last month of pregnancy appeared healthy. However, it did not provide information about what could happen to women who are infected earlier in their pregnancy.

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When it comes to children, Dr. Susan Reines, area assistant chief of pediatrics at Kaiser Permanente Georgia told the AJC “we are only beginning to learn how this infection impacts children and it is not yet known if some children with underlying medical conditions may be at higher risk for severe illness.”

“As with most infections, we do advise that children with underlying heart and lung disease, and those with conditions that cause a weakened immune system take greater precautions to prevent infection. If infected, these children should be monitored very closely and have ongoing contact with their physician,” she said.

Additionally, Dr. Carla Perissinotto an associate professor in the Geriatrics Division of the University of California-San Francisco's Department of Medicine, told CNN that loved ones should be appointed as an emergency contact.

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The CDC has recommended that people who are considered at higher-risk of COVID-19 avoid crowds. However, Perissinotto, who studies how social isolation effects older adults, cautioned against complete avoidance of social interaction.

“I don't think the solution of totally being devoid of social contact is the answer,” she told CNN. “Yes, there is some prudence we need to have in social distancing, but we also have to be careful to not isolate more — it can be very detrimental.”

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