COVID-19: Are You at Higher Risk of Serious Illness?

Some groups of people are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19. Adults over the age of 65 and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions, such as asthma, heart disease, diabetes, lung disease, and HIV, may be at higher risk for more serious complications from COVID-19.

Checklist for high-risk populations

If you are an older adult or have a serious underlying health condition:

  • Stay home if possible.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid close contact (6 feet, which is about two arm lengths) with people who are sick.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces.
  • Avoid all cruise travel and non-essential air travel.
  • Call your doctor if you have concerns about COVID-19 and your underlying condition, or if you are sick.

More can be found at: CDC COVID-19, Older Adults webpage.

More can be found at: CDC COVID-19, People with Asthma and COVID-19 webpage.

Families with Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs

Checklist for Families:

  • Stay home if possible. Follow the steps to protect yourself and your family.
  • Have medications, durable medical equipment (DME), special nutritionals, and other supplies available. Check that equipment is charged and working properly. Plan ahead for additional time for refill requests.
  • Keep family emergency preparedness kits stocked with food, household supplies and other items. If you have a go-bag, such as an emergency kit for a tracheostomy or gastronomy tube (G-tube), make sure it is complete and stocked with back up supplies.
  • Clean and disinfect DME, assistive technology and adaptive equipment. Here are some tips.
  • Plan for absences and changes in caregivers schedules. Arrange for emergency caregivers in case family members or guardians become ill. Try to assure that children are cared for by people they know so there are minimal separations from familiar caregivers.
  • Consider alternative strategies for limiting visits to your home by professionals and family and friends such as video chats or phone calls. 
  • Call your child’s health care provider in advance if you believe that your child needs to be evaluated. Many health care providers are using telehealth visits.
  • Stay calm and have a plan. The CDC has additional resources for emergency planning and preparedness for children with special health care needs.

Additional Resources


Last Revised: March 30, 2020