Grey-haired woman in a mask

Because it is a new disease, there is limited information regarding overall COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) risk. However, we do know that being an older adult and/or having certain underlying conditions put you at higher risk for severe illness from the COVID-19.

If you are among those with a greater risk for coronavirus, you will want to take extra care to follow precautions to protect against the virus.

The University of Maryland Medical System is committed to bringing you helpful, accurate resources about COVID-19 and how to prevent its spread.

Coronavirus Risk

Based on currently available information, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advises that those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include people who:

  • Are older adults (coronavirus risk increases as you age)
  • Are living in a nursing home or long-term care facility
  • Have certain underlying conditions, particularly if they are not well controlled

Underlying Conditions

These underlying medical conditions heighten your risk, no matter your age, include:

  • Chronic lung disease, including COPD
  • Serious heart conditions
  • Obesity with a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more
  • Diabetes (type 2)
  • Chronic kidney disease that requires dialysis
  • Conditions that cause you to be immunocompromised
  • Sickle cell disease

What Is Immunocompromised?

Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised. For immunocompromised conditions such as organ transplant, there is stronger evidence that it increases your risk.

But people with any of these conditions should know they could be at higher risk for severe disease:

  • Cancer treatment
  • Smoking
  • Bone marrow or organ transplant
  • Immune deficiencies
  • Poorly controlled HIV or AIDS
  • Prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications

The medical community continues to gather and analyze evidence regarding the risk of severe COVID-19. At this point in time, it is thought that these conditions might heighten your risk for severe disease:

  • Asthma (moderate to severe)
  • Blood disorders, such as thalassemia
  • Cerebrovascular disease
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Dementia
  • Diabetes (type 1)
  • High blood pressure
  • Liver disease
  • Lung damage
  • Pregnancy