When it comes to public health, “vulnerable populations” are at higher risk of infection, complications and even death resulting from exposure to spreading viruses.
“Vulnerable populations” include:
- The frail elderly
- People with serious chronic medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease
- People whose immune systems are suppressed, including those living with chronic illness, especially autoimmune disorders; organ transplant recipients; and cancer patients
If you are at risk, the best course of action is to stay away from groups of people, social distancing (keeping a distance of 6 feet) and practicing the preventive measures above.
Next, stay in contact with your primary care provider. They can keep you informed as the COVID-19 outbreak grows and as medical researchers learn new ways to address and contain it.
If a loved one is at risk, the CDC recommends taking the following steps to support them:
- Help them obtain an extra supply of the medications they take
- Be sure that they have an abundant supply of any medical supplies they need, such as oxygen, wound care and dressings or incontinence supplies
- Stock up on non-perishable food items to have on hand so your loved one doesn’t run out or have to venture out to stores
If your loved one lives in a care facility:
- Know the facility’s plans and protocol should an outbreak occur
- Monitor the situation
- Ask frequently about the health of other residents
This article was reviewed March 12, 2020 by Thomas M. Kerkering, M.D., F.A.C.P., F.I.D.S.A., Professor of Medicine, Section of Infectious Diseases, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine.
Visit CarilionClinic.org/coronavirus for up-to-date information about our response to COVID-19. Call our Community Hotline for general questions about symptoms, resources, guidelines and more,
COVID-19 Community Hotline
Monday - Friday, 8 a.m - 5 p.m.
Do not call the Community Hotline to make appointments, or to request testing or test results. For information about COVID-19 and your personal health, talk with your primary care provider.