As with any illness, a key component of preventing your coronavirus infection is figuring out your risk of contracting it in the first place. "We are learning more about COVID-19 every day," says the CDC. "Adults of any age with certain underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from the virus that causes COVID-19." Here are 6 things that put you more at risk for contracting COVID-19. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
There are additional demographics that can also determine your likelihood of infection. For example, according to an analysis of data by the AP, African Americans are more susceptible to the virus. "Health conditions that exist at higher rates in the black community—obesity, diabetes and asthma—make African Americans more susceptible to the virus," they point out. Dr. Krumholz adds that socio-economic status is also a factor. "We are seeking to rapidly understand why these people have higher risk—and to determine strategies that can better protect them," he says.
The CDC maintains that severe obesity—defined as a body mass index (BMI) of 40 or above—is a definite risk factor for COVID-19. While it isn't clear how it influences an individual's likelihood of contracting the virus, as that data doesn't appear to be available, preliminary studies have concluded that it definitely influences the likelihood of hospitalization. "People living with severe obesity can have multiple serious chronic diseases and underlying health conditions that can increase the risk of severe illness from COVID-19," explains the CDC.
A Compromised Immune System
According to the CDC, those with weakened immune systems (immunocompromised)—including individuals undergoing cancer treatment, bone marrow or organ transplantation, who suffer immune deficiencies, HIV with a low CD4 cell count or not on HIV treatment, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications—are at a higher risk of COVID-19 infection.
"People with a weakened immune system have reduced ability to fight infectious diseases, including viruses like COVID-19," they explain, "Knowledge is limited about the virus that causes COVID-19, but based on similar viruses, there is concern that immunocompromised patients may remain infectious for longer than other COVID-19 patients."
There have been contradictory studies about the influence smoking and nicotine have when it comes to coronavirus risk. While one French study claims that those who smoke daily are less likely to develop a severe case of the illness, leading them to believe that nicotine substitutes could be a "potential preventative agent" against infection, other research has found quite the opposite. But the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) told Bloomberg News revised its stance on COVID-19 and nicotine, from saying that people who smoke could have worsened cases of the virus to adding that nicotine could also increase the chances of catching the coronavirus in the first place.
Certain Preexisting Conditions
Dr. Krumholz points out that some people with certain underlying conditions have a greater risk of worse outcomes. According to the CDC there are specific preexisting conditions that can put individuals at a greater risk of COVID-19. These include serious heart conditions—including heart failure, coronary artery disease, congenital heart disease, cardiomyopathies, and pulmonary hypertension—diabetes, chronic lung disease, moderate-to-severe asthma, and chronic kidney disease.
Just by looking at a coronavirus infection map, it is clear that where you are in the world, country, state, and city impacts your likelihood and risk contracting COVID-19. If you are in a region where there are more reported cases of the virus, like Florida, there's obviously more of a likelihood you will get it then if you are in a small town in Wyoming. As your yourself, to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.