FAQ - High-Risk Populations

Which groups are at higher risk for severe illness?

  • People age 60 years and older, people living in nursing homes or long-term care facilities
  • People with high-risk conditions, such as those with chronic lung diseases such as COPD, diabetes, cancer, serious heart conditions, those who are immunocompromised

How can groups at higher risk for severe illness protect themselves?

  • Remain at home until further guidance is issued - cancel any non-essential travel and appointments
  • Contact your healthcare provider to discuss rescheduling routine medical care that is not urgent; otherwise, discuss telehealth or in-home care options
  • Continue with outdoor activities as long as you practice social distancing
  • Stay in touch with others by phone, email or other online tools like Skype and Facebook
  • Identify family, friends, neighbors and caregivers who can provide support
  • Have extra necessary medications on hand and consider using mail-order for medications
  • Have a plan for if you get sick and monitor your health for symptoms of COVID-19 (cough, fever, shortness of breath)
  • If you develop emergency warning signs for COVID-19, get medical attention immediately; warning signs* include:
    • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
    • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
    • New confusion or inability to arouse
    • Bluish lips or face
    • * This list is not all inclusive; contact your healthcare provider for any other symptom that is severe or concerning
  • Practice handwashing, cover cough with a tissue or sleeve, and avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs and practice routine cleaning of frequently-touched surfaces with common cleaning supplies

How do organizations serving these vulnerable populations ensure their safety?

  • Take all necessary measures to ensure all employees experiencing any symptoms of illness stay home and avoid contact with others
  • Be extra vigilant in following recommendations regarding cleaning of high-touch surfaces, including counters, tabletops, doorknobs, toilets, phones, keyboards, tablets and bedside tables
  • Support and monitor hand and respiratory hygiene, as well as cough etiquette by residents and employees
  • Ensure that sinks are well-stocked with soap and paper towels for handwashing
  • Cancel all group activities and communal dining
  • Implement active screening of individuals for fever and respiratory symptoms

How can families protect high-risk family members during this situation?

  • Nursing home visits are now restricted except for certain compassionate care situations, such as end of life situations
  • Family, friends, neighbors, and caregivers who come to homes to provide support should be asymptomatic, meaning having no fever, cough, or other respiratory symptom
  • Help loved ones prepare for self-isolation
  • Does your loved one have what they need to spend an extended period of time inside? Prepare supplies for them and help in doing essential grocery shopping
  • If their caregiver calls in sick, is there someone who can step in to take care of them? Have a plan in place to make sure they will get the care they need
  • Stay in touch through Skype, Facebook and other online tools

For additional resources, visit the:
California Department of Public Health guidance for higher risk populations