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Coronavirus Q&A: I Have An Underlying Condition. How Much More Cautious Should I Be?

This illustration reveals the morphology exhibited by coronaviruses. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)
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We’re asking public health officials and experts to answer your questions about the coronavirus outbreak. Keep in mind that our understanding of the virus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, is still evolving, and that this information does not constitute professional medical advice. For questions regarding your own health, always consult a physician.

Audience member Joan Miller wanted “guidance for people with chronic illnesses and ‘underlying conditions.’ How much more cautious should we be?”

Here’s an explanation from Dr. Shruti Gohil with the University of California Irvine Medical Center, who’s helping lead the effort to prepare the hospital for COVID-19:

“So if you're a diabetic or asthmatic and/or have some other immunocompromising condition, you are at higher risk than someone without those conditions. But, say you're a very well-controlled diabetic or a very well-controlled asmathic and you've weathered viruses in the past and maybe even this season... there's a spectrum. It's really important that patients understand that each of us are on a spectrum of what your risk is.”

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If you're on chemotherapy, for instance, or if you’re a transplant patient on special medication, then your risk is very high and you should take extra precautions, Miller said. If you have any questions about your situation, you should discuss with your doctor, she said.