The worst is yet to come: CDC updates older adults should know about COVID-19
As the song says, “It’s not over yet.” In fact, the World Health Organization warned Monday that “the worst is yet to come,” referring to the coronavirus pandemic.
Six months since the new coronavirus outbreak, and the death toll has exceeded 500,000 and the number of confirmed infections exceeds 10 million. Here in the US, several states posted record highs this week, including where I live here in California, as well as Florida and Texas. In a June 23 hearing before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, called the next two weeks “critical” in controlling the spread.
Baby boomers need to pay attention. Although information about COVID-19 continues to evolve, one thing has not changed. Older adults are at high risk of severe illness and death from coronavirus. Take note: Eight out of 10 COVID-19-related deaths reported in the United States have been among adults 65 and older, according to the CDC.
With all of this in mind, you may want to consider some of the latest CDC updates for older adults:
* If you are under 65 and think you are safe, think again. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in June expanded its advisory on who is most at risk of serious illness from COVID-19, lowering 65 as the age-specific threshold for when the risk increases in adults. Simply put, as you get older, your risk of serious illness from COVID-19 increases. While people 85 and older are at the highest risk, people in their 50s generally have a higher risk of serious illness than people in their 40s. And people in their 60s or 70s are at a higher risk of serious illness than people in their 50s.
* The CDC has updated its official list of COVID-19 symptoms. Warning signs of the disease include: fever or chills; cough; shortness of breath or trouble breathing; tired; muscle or body aches; headache; new loss of taste or smell; throat pain; stuffy or runny nose; nausea or vomiting; and diarrhea. Symptoms that require immediate medical attention include: shortness of breath; persistent chest pain or pressure; new confusion; inability to wake up or stay awake; and bluish lips or face. Keep in mind that in older adults (65 years and older), normal body temperature may be lower than in younger adults. For this reason, the temperature of the fever may also be lower in older adults, which means it may be less noticeable.
* The CDC also clarified which underlying conditions are most associated with COVID-19 hospitalizations and death. On the expanded list: chronic kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), obesity (BMI of 30 or more), a weakened immune system, type 2 diabetes, sickle cell disease, and heart conditions, such as heart failure, kidney disease. coronary arteries or cardiomyopathies. So far, the top three underlying health conditions among coronavirus patients are cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and chronic lung disease.
* With the increasing rate of infections, let’s talk about masks. They have some good looking fabric face coverings these days, but which one offers the best protection? One of the most important characteristics you need is multiple layers of tissue, which are better than just one, Richard Wenzel, MD, an infectious disease epidemiologist and emeritus professor of internal medicine at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond. states in an article for Consumers Reports. Mayo Clinic agrees that “fabric masks should include multiple layers of fabric.” A general rule of thumb is that thicker, denser fabrics work better than thinner, looser-woven fabrics. Flannel pajama material, for example, which is tightly woven, might be a good option, Wenzel adds. If you plan to buy a mask online, make sure it is made with a tightly woven fabric and fits snugly, completely covering your mouth and nose, wrapping it under your chin like an anchor.
* Staying healthy is always important, but even more so during this pandemic. The CDC recommends that older adults get recommended flu and pneumonia vaccinations, eat healthy, stay active, avoid excessive alcohol consumption, and get enough sleep. It is also important to learn how to deal with the stress that comes from a pandemic in a healthy way. Take a break from the news, embrace your spirituality, stay connected with your loved ones, take time to relax and do something you enjoy, and practice deep breathing.
* Federal health officials are preparing for the fall, when the flu and COVID-19 will be circulating at the same time. Last week, the CDC’s Redfield urged the public to be prepared and “embrace” the flu vaccine. “This act alone will save lives,” he said. The CDC is also developing a test that can simultaneously detect flu and COVID-19.
So are we still having fun?
Yes I understand. This is hard. We miss our grandchildren, concerts in the park, eating out, and meeting friends. The more laid-back and carefree attitude that many are displaying right now can be contagious. However, boomers must be more vigilant.
The CDC recommends avoiding activities in which it is difficult to take protective measures, such as activities in which social distancing cannot be maintained. “In general, the more people you interact, the more closely you interact with them, and the longer the interaction lasts, the greater the risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19,” their site states.
Stay safe and sane in Coronaville, my fellow boomers!