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CDC just issued a huge and important update to its coronavirus warnings

Published Jun 26th, 2020 10:53AM EDT
Coronavirus Symptoms
Image: Allen J Schaben/Los Angeles Time/Shutterstock

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  • After recently updating the coronavirus symptoms list, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made changes to the list of medical conditions that increase one’s risk of developing a severe case of COVID-19.
  • The CDC removed age alone as a risk factor, added pregnancy, and lowered the body mass index (obesity) threshold.
  • The organization says people of any age suffering from one of seven medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness, while 12 other health issues might also be an increased risk.

The CDC updated its coronavirus symptoms list a few weeks ago, but the changes went unnoticed for several weeks and we only just noticed them earlier this week. But the organization just made a few more notable changes to its COVID-19 pages that detail several preexisting medical conditions that could lead to more severe COVID-19 prognoses. The CDC updated the medical conditions page on Thursday, using data available as of May 29th, 2020. “We are learning more about COVID-19 every day, and as new information becomes available, CDC will update the information below,” the page reads.

The CDC removed age alone as a risk factor for severe COVID-19, per ABC13, and added several conditions to the list that can worsen the progression of the infection. Per the CDC, people of any age with the following conditions are at increased risk of severe illness:

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

The BMI index for obesity was lowered to 30 from the previously stated 40, and sickle cell disease was added to the “increased risk of severe illness” list.

The CDC also compiled a second list of medical conditions. People suffering from any of the following conditions “might be at an increased risk” of developing a severe case of COVID-19:

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

The CDC offers at this link the evidence used to come up with the updates to the list of underlying medical conditions that increase the risk of severe illness.

A surprising addition to the list is pregnancy, as the CDC observed that pregnancy increases the risk of hospitalization and severe COVID-19 experience for women. Stat explains that the study the CDC used to update its guidance monitored 8,000 participants and found that pregnant women were 50% more likely to be hospitalized than infected women who were not pregnant, and 70% more likely to need medical ventilation.

Before the update, the CDC said that people at high risk of serious COVID-19 included individuals aged 65 years and older; people who live in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities; and people with a heart condition, obesity, diabetes, liver disease, chronic kidney disease, chronic lung disease, or any condition that weakens the immune system.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.