Here is how vulnerable populations can reduce COVID-19 risk

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Public health officials who have been watching the spread of COVID-19, a deadly respiratory illness now spreading in dozens of countries, know older adults and people who have serious chronic medical conditions are at most risk.

As of Monday afternoon, 10 out of the 12 COVID-19 patients who were diagnosed in Florida are ages 55 and older. One patient in Charlotte County is 54 years old and a patient in Hillsborough County is 29.

About 20% of the U.S. population is aged 60 and older. And “starting at age 60, there is an increasing risk of disease, and the risk increases with age,” Dr. Nancy Messonnier of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said.

In Broward County, the three men who were diagnosed are ages 61, 67 and 75. Dr. Faisel Syed said he was at the Chen Senior Medical Center in Hallandale Beach to help reduce fear and distrust through education.

The medical center is also upgrading protocols. One of the new measures includes taking the temperatures of visitors and vendors. Anyone with a fever of over 100 will not be able to enter the center.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises people who care for a loved one living in a care facility to monitor the situation, ask about the health of the other residents frequently and know the protocol if there is an outbreak.

Here is a list of CDC guidelines for at-risk populations:

Have supplies on hand and plan ahead

  • Contact your healthcare provider to ask about obtaining extra necessary medications to have on hand in case there is an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community and you need to stay home for a prolonged period of time. If you cannot get extra medications, consider using mail-order for medications.
  • Be sure you have over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies to treat fever and other symptoms. Most people will be able to recover from COVID-19 at home.
  • Stock up on non-perishable food items. Have enough household items and groceries on hand so that you will be prepared to stay at home for a period of time.
  • Determine who can provide you with care if your caregiver gets sick. Stay in touch with others by phone or email. You may need to ask for help from friends, family, neighbors or community health workers if you become sick.

Take everyday precautions

  • YOUR HANDS: Clean your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing or having been in a public place.
    • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
    • To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places – elevator buttons, door handles, handrails, handshaking with people, etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something.
    • Wash your hands after touching surfaces in public places.
    • Avoid touching your face, nose, eyes, etc.
    • Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs: practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks, and cell phones.
  • STAY HOME: Avoid unnecessary travel. Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. Your risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation if there are people in the crowd who are sick. If COVID-19 is spreading in your community, take extra measures to put distance between yourself and other people.

Source: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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