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Common Questions And Answers About Covid-19 For Older Adults And People With Chronic Health Conditions

  • Common Questions And Answers About Covid-19 For Older Adults And People With Chronic Health Conditions

    Sources: National Foundation for Infectious Diseases

    This resource will be updated periodically to reflect new information about COVID-19 as it becomes available. According to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in humans and can cause illnesses ranging from mild respiratory infections like the common cold to serious illnesses, such as pneumonia or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has now been detected in more than 100 countries, including the U.S.

    WHY ARE OLDER ADULTS AND PEOPLE WITH CHRONIC HEALTH CONDITIONS AT HIGHER RISK?

    Older adults and people who have chronic medical conditions including heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, cancer, and hypertension are at higher risk for more serious COVID-19 illness and death. This is because our immune systems grow weaker as we age, which makes it more challenging for older adults to fight off infectious diseases. Chronic diseases are more common with age, can compromise the immune system, and make people more vulnerable to serious complications. Because of the rapid spread of COVID-19, the CDC recently issued a warning for people who are at the highest risk for serious illness from the virus. It is imperative older adults and others who are at high risk heed the advice of the CDC.

    WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF COVID-19 AND HOW IS IT DIFFERENT FROM FLU AND ALLERGIES?

    The main symptoms of COVID-19, which may appear between 2 to 14 days after exposure, include: fever, cough, and difficulty breathing or shortness of breath. Not everyone with COVID-19 will experience symptoms, or they may be mild enough that they are dismissed, but they can still be contagious. These symptoms can also seem similar to flu and seasonal allergies but there are some differences.

    WHEN SHOULD I CALL A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL?

    It is important to call a healthcare professional as soon as possible if you think you may have been exposed to COVID-19 and begin to develop symptoms. It is important to call first, so that the clinic or hospital can prepare and prevent the spread of infection. 

    HOW DO THEY TEST FOR COVID-19?

    To diagnose a potential case, healthcare professionals may run tests to rule out influenza and other common infections. Not all healthcare facilities are able to test for COVID-19 at this time. The test involves swabbing the nose and throat, and taking samples of any saliva and mucus that is coughed up. They may also draw blood.

    WILL I HAVE TO PAY FOR TESTING?

    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is taking important steps to waive cost-sharing for COVID-19-related testing and treatment to ensure all patients who need it have access to care. Medicare and Medicare Advantage Plans will cover lab tests for COVID-19 with no out-of-pocket costs, any necessary hospital care, and telehealth services including virtual check-ins and full visits for those living in rural areas.

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