Older adults and those with “severe chronic medical conditions” should “stay at home as much as possible” to avoid COVID-19, the illness caused by a new coronavirus, according to new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advice.

“Older adults and people who have severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease seem to be at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness,” the CDC advice says. “Early data suggest older people are twice as likely to have serious COVID-19 illness.”

An illustration created at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that depicts a coronavirus. (Special)

The CDC and other health authorities advise everyone to take basic precautions against catching the virus, such as frequent hand-washing. The new guidance for older adults and those with chronic medical conditions – considered at “higher risk” of catching the virus – is as follows:

  • Stay at home as much as possible.
  • Make sure you have access to several weeks of medications and supplies in case you need to stay home for prolonged periods of time.
  • When you go out in public, keep away from others who are sick, limit close contact and wash your hands often.
  • Avoid crowds.
  • Stay up to date on CDC Travel Health Notices.

COVID-19 is the disease caused by a previously unknown type of coronavirus. There is not yet a vaccine or specific antiviral treatment for COVID-19, according to the Atlanta-based CDC, though several vaccines are in development. Most people infected with the disease have no or mild symptoms, but it can be fatal, especially by causing pneumonia.

Gov. Brian Kemp announced March 2 that Georgia’s first confirmed cases of the virus have been found in two Fulton County residents.

Local cities and school districts are preparing for the potential spreading of the virus by taking cues from state and federal agencies, and hospitals are screening patients for symptoms.

The COVID-19 situation globally and the scientific understanding of the virus is changing rapidly. For official updates and extensive information, see the CDC’s website at CDC.gov.

John Ruch

John Ruch is an Atlanta based journalist. Previously, he was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.