COVID-19: Prevention and Groups at Higher Risk

You can find guidance below tailored for specific groups of people, including children and people with health conditions that could put them at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Multisystem Inflammatory Syndrome in Children

Multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children (MIS-C) is a new health condition associated with COVID-19 that is appearing in children in NYC and elsewhere. The syndrome was previously called pediatric multisystem inflammatory syndrome, or PMIS.

MIS-C is like other serious inflammatory conditions such as Kawasaki disease and toxic shock syndrome. Children with MIS-C can have problems with their heart and other organs and need to receive medical care in a hospital.

Pregnant People

There is no evidence pregnant people are more likely to get COVID-19, but they should still be monitored closely. For more information about pregnancy see our COVID-19: Pregnancy page.

People at Increased Risk of Severe Illness

Severe illness means that the person with COVID-19 may require hospitalization, intensive care or a ventilator to help them breathe, or that they may even die. People who are at increased risk of severe illness need to be especially careful about monitoring their health.

Among adults, the risk for severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age, with older adults at highest risk. For example, people in their 50s are at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 40s. Similarly, people in their 60s or 70s are, in general, at higher risk for severe illness than people in their 50s.

In addition, people of any age with the following underlying health conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19:

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

If you have one of the above underlying health conditions or are 65 or older, consider staying home to protect yourself. Work from home if you can, avoid crowds and gatherings, and be sure to practice physical distancing and other precautions if you go out.

Other Possible Risk Factors

We are still learning about COVID-19, and there may be other health conditions that increase the risk of severe illness. Based on what we know at this time, people with the following conditions might also be at an increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19:

  • 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

Also, children who are medically complex, who have neurologic, genetic or metabolic conditions, or who have congenital heart disease might be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19 compared to other children.


Additional Guidance

More Information