Blog Post

Insight: Who’s At Risk for COVID-19?

By: Laura Summers

Note: The opinions expressed are those of the author alone and do not reflect an institutional position of the Gardner Institute. We hope the opinions shared contribute to the marketplace of ideas and help people as they formulate their own INFORMED DECISIONS™.

Our world has been struggling with COVID-19 for about six months now. And while it feels like forever, there is still a lot we don’t know about the disease. For example, how much of the virus do you need to come into contact with to get infected? Will there be long-term health effects for those who are asymptomatic? How long do antibodies last? When will this all end?

There are a few things that are clear, however; one of them being that individuals with pre-existing chronic conditions are more susceptible to experiencing symptoms and severe complications from the disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that people with the following conditions, of any age, are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.[i]

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher)
  • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

In addition, people with the following conditions might be at an increased risk for severe illness:

  • Asthma (moderate to severe)
  • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
  • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
  • Liver disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
  • Smoking
  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus

And while Utah is known as a healthy state—we typically rank high on healthy indicators compared with other states―it is important to acknowledge that many individuals in Utah have t