The Novel Coronavirus (Updated 3/23/20)

With so much information available about the Novel Coronavirus, or COVID-19, it is hard to keep it all straight. What should we know as individuals, as we all have different, fewer, or more risk factors? Below is some of the latest information.

Who gets sickest from the Novel Coronavirus?

In the early stages of the pandemic, the belief was that people with more risk factors are most likely to die from Coronavirus, and that remains true. From the start of the outbreak in China, elderly people and sicker people were less likely to recover than younger, healthy people. Unfortunately, we are now hearing reports of people as young as 20 are treated in hospitals, or dying, around the world. 

With or without symptoms, we are all able to spread the virus if we are infected. People who become symptomatic were likely shedding the virus for a few days before becoming sick. Research further indicates that the virus sheds for nearly 40 days after the person recovers. The way COVID-19 affects children is adding to the mystery and the evolution of our collective knowledge. There is some evidence that children may shed the virus in stool. 

While this disease is spreading rapidly and inciting fear and utterly irrational behavior, we must keep a cool head and allow common sense to guide us.

Elderly woman coughing - Adults 65 - older - risk severe illness - death from COVID-19 - coronavirus
Seniors At Great Risk From COVID-19

Adults in the 65 years and older age range are at much higher risk for severe illness and death from COVID-19 than any other age segment. 

  • 8 out of 10 deaths reported in the U.S. have been in adults 65 years old and older
  • 8 of 10 deaths are in adults 65+

Among adults with confirmed COVID-19 reported in the U.S.:

  • Estimated percent requiring hospitalization
    • 31-70% of adults 85 years old and older
    • 31-59% of adults 65-84 years old
  • Estimated percent requiring admission to an intensive care unit
    • 6-29% of adults 85 years old and older
    • 11-31% of adults 65-84 years old
  • Estimated percent who died
    • 10-27% of adults 85 years old and older
    • 4-11% of adults 65-84 years old

Source: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/specific-groups/high-risk-complications/older-adults.html

The video below from the CDC should be viewed by the elderly, their family as well as in-home caregivers, health aides and staff at residential care facilities.

What should I do to stop the spread of Coronavirus?

The CDC (The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) gives the following recommendations for people at high risk for a challenging course of illness, should they become infected.

  • Have supplies on hand: Food, medicine, pet supplies
  • Take everyday precautions: Wash your hands
  • Stay home as much as possible: Avoid crowds. If you must go out, practice social distancing and maintain at least 6 feet between you and other people. #socialdistancing
  • Pay attention to potential COVID-19 symptoms, including fever, cough, and shortness of breath. If you feel like you are developing symptoms, call your doctor. Experts advise against going to the emergency room or doctor’s office.
  • Stop hoarding medical supplies: First responders and healthcare providers need these supplies so they can care for sick people. If the first responders and medical staff are sick, they can’t continue to provide treatment, and the death count will rise exponentially. 
  • Leave some toilet paper for the rest of us. Toilet tissue is 100% ineffective at preventing Coronavirus, which is a respiratory disease. 
  • Mental health is a concern due to isolation precautions. Please check in with neighbors who have no immediate family. 
  • The Anxiety and Depression Association of America has set up a resource page on coronavirus anxiety to offer tips and strategies from mental health professionals if you know anybody who may be struggling with social distancing or this pandemic.

Although each state will issue directives and guidelines, the CDC’s guidance for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 (as well as Flu, SARS, etc.) emphasizes greater individual responsibility:

  • Individuals, communities, businesses, and healthcare organizations are all part of a community mitigation strategy. 
  • Community mitigation is a set of actions that persons and communities can take to help slow the spread of respiratory virus infections. 
  • Community mitigation is especially important before a vaccine or drug becomes widely available.
  • Selection and implementation of these actions should be guided by the local characteristics of disease transmission, demographics, and public health and healthcare system capacity.” 
  • Click here for a Medicare resource with information about ensuring you get the necessary medical care during a disaster.

Stay healthy and socially distanced, friends!