The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has expanded its guidance for people who need to be especially careful due to the coronavirus.
Anyone over the age of 60 or who has chronic illnesses – including diabetes, heart disease, lung disease, and other chronic conditions – should essentially self-quarantine. Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said during a conference call that those who are at serious risk should stock up on supplies such as medications, groceries, and anything else they may need and stay home for the foreseeable future.
“This virus is capable of spreading easily and sustainably from person to person … and there’s essentially no immunity against this virus in the population,” Messonnier said, as reported by CNBC.
“It’s fair to say that, as the trajectory of the outbreak continues, many people in the United States will at some point in time, either this year or next, be exposed to this virus and there’s a good chance many will become sick,” she added.
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Most people won’t develop serious symptoms, but 15% to 20% of the people who are exposed to the virus get severely sick, she said.
Of the 70,000 cases WHO scientists looked at, only about 2% were in people younger than 19. The odds of developing COVID-19 increase with age, starting at age 60. It’s especially lethal for people over 80.
“This seems to be a disease that affects adults and most seriously older adults,” Messonnier said on the conference call. “Starting at age 60, there is an increasing risk of disease and the risk increases with age.”
Those over 60 and with chronic illnesses are at risk to develop “serious outcomes, including death,” she said.
Messonnier said she made similar recommendations to her own parents.
“During an outbreak with a new virus there is a lot of uncertainty. Our guidelines and recommendations are likely to be interim and subject to change as we learn more,” she added. She also said that collecting data from other countries, such as South Korea and Japan, is helpful for the CDC to “understand the potential risk in the U.S.”
At the time of this writing, the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus map states that 28 people have died in the U.S. due to the virus already – 23 of whom died in Washington state. The map says there have been 804 confirmed cases in the U.S.
Globally, Johns Hopkins says there have been 118,100 confirmed cases of coronavirus, 80,757 of those were confirmed in mainland China alone. Italy is now the second-most affected country, with 10,149 confirmed cases. The entire country is now under quarantine to try and stop the spread of the virus. In total, 4,262 people have died from the virus, while another 64,391 have recovered. The likelihood of the average person dying from the coronavirus is small, yet those who are at risk should take basic steps to protect themselves, as the CDC recommends. Everyone should practice basic hygiene such as frequently washing their hands and staying home if they are sick in order to protect themselves and others.