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High-Risk Populations

COVID-19 is a new disease and there is limited information regarding risk factors for severe disease. Based on current information and clinical expertise, older adults and people of any age who have serious underlying medical conditions might be at higher risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

Those at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19 include:

  • People aged 65 years and older.
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility.
  • Other high-risk conditions could include:
    • People with chronic lung disease or moderate to severe asthma.
    • People who have serious heart conditions.
    • People who are immunocompromised including cancer treatment.
    • People of any age with severe obesity (body mass index [BMI] >40) or certain underlying medical conditions, such as those with diabetes, renal failure, or liver disease might also be at risk.
  • People who are pregnant should be monitored since they are known to be at risk with severe viral illness, however, to date data on COVID-19 has not shown increased risk.

Many conditions can cause a person to be immunocompromised, including cancer treatment, smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, immune deficiencies, HIV or AIDS, and prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications.

Anyone with a chronic medical condition or who is immunocompromised and is receiving home-health care should:

  • Avoid close contact to anyone that is sick and do not allow anyone to enter your home that is showing symptoms of respiratory infection such as cough, fever, shortness of breath and sore throat.
  • Do not allow persons who have traveled internationally or on a cruise ship in the past 14 days to enter your home, whether they have gotten tested or not.

Infographic: Protection, Planning & Care for Older Adults

 

Talk to your health care provider about potential post-exposure treatments

Treatments used for COVID-19 should be prescribed by a health care provider.

Monoclonal antibody treatments can prevent hospitalization or death in high-risk patients with COVID-19 and are widely available in Florida.

  • Treatment is free and vaccination status does not matter. If you are 12 years and older and are at high risk for severe illness due to COVID-19, you are eligible for this treatment.
    • In clinical trials, monoclonal antibody treatment showed a 70% reduction in hospitalization and death.
    • For high-risk patients who have been exposed to someone with COVID19, Regeneron can give you temporary immunity to decrease your odds of catching the infection by over 80%.
  • There is currently a standing order in Florida signed by the State Surgeon General that allows patients to receive this treatment without a prescription or referral if administered by an eligible health care provider. Such referrals are not required at any of the State of Florida monoclonal antibody treatment sites and treatments are available at no cost to patients.

Click here to find a treatment site.

 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued emergency use authorization for Regeneron Pharmaceuticals’ REGEN-COV (casirivimab and imdevimab) for post-exposure prophylaxis of COVID-19 in people who are at high risk for progression to severe COVID-19, including hospitalization or death, and are:

  • Not fully vaccinated (2 weeks after a person’s final dose of a COVID-19 vaccine) or who are not expected to mount an adequate immune response to complete COVID-19 vaccination (for example, people with immunocompromising conditions including those taking immunosuppressive medications) and
    • Have been exposed to a person infected with COVID-19 consistent with close contact criteria per Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or
    • Who are at high risk of exposure to a person infected with COVID-19 because of occurrence of COVID-19 infection in other people in the same institutional setting (for example, nursing homes, prisons, etc.)
  • Post-exposure prophylaxis with REGEN-COV (casirivimab with imdevimab) is not intended to be a substitute for vaccination against COVID-19.
  • REGEN-COV is not authorized for pre-exposure prophylaxis for prevention of COVID-19.

More information can be found on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website.

 

 

 

People with chronic or underlying health conditions are more likely to become very sick from COVID-19. Those who have one or more of these conditions should be extra careful:

  • Moderate to severe asthma or chronic lung disease
  • Heart disease
  • Chronic kidney disease undergoing dialysis
  • Diabetes
  • Liver disease
  • Autoimmune disease
  • Weakened immune system because of smoking, bone marrow or organ transplantation, cancer treatment, poorly controlled HIV or AIDS, or prolonged use of corticosteroids and other immune weakening medications
  • Severe obesity

See information on COVID-19 and chronic or underlying health conditions

The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to the virus (and avoid exposing other people). Here’s how:

  • Vaccines are the most effective tools to protect your health and prevent the spread of disease.
  • Practice social distancing.
  • Wear a cloth face cover in public.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Clean and disinfect “high-touch” surfaces.

See more about preventing and preparing for COVID-19.

The time between exposure to the COVID-19 virus and onset of symptoms is called the “incubation period.” The incubation period for COVID-19 is typically 2 to 14 days, although in some cases it may be longer.

If you have had close contact with someone showing COVID-19 symptoms or has been diagnosed with COVID-19, you should call your County Health Department or other health care professional to discuss the steps and precautions you should take.

Yes, you should contact your healthcare professional just like you would at any other time. You should not delay in seeking medical care if you are concerned about your health, but call your healthcare provider before visiting the office.

If you are concerned about visiting your doctor, ask about what telehealth services they may offer. Your doctor’s office may ask screening questions, limit the number of people who can be in the office at any one time, require face masks, and introduce other processes to keep you safe.

Call your doctor or your County Health Department if you think you have been exposed to COVID-19, have symptoms, and need to be tested. They will decide whether you need to be tested, tell you where to go, and link you to local resources for people who have limited mobility.

Monoclonal antibodies help the immune system recognize and respond more effectively to the COVID-19 virus.

Monoclonal antibodies are a treatment authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for use in adult and pediatric patients (12 and older) who have either been diagnosed or exposed to someone with COVID-19 and are at high risk for progression to severe illness, hospitalization, or death from COVID-19.

In clinical trials, this treatment resulted in a 70% reduction in risk for hospitalization and death, and resulted in an 82% reduction in risk for contracting COVID-19 for people who were exposed to the virus by other members of their household.

To support Governor DeSantis’ initiative, there is currently a standing order in Florida signed by the State Surgeon General that allows patients to receive this treatment without a prescription or referral if administered by an eligible health care provider. Such referrals are not required at any of the State of Florida monoclonal antibody treatment sites.

At the direction of Governor DeSantis, the Florida Department of Health and Florida Division of Emergency Management are working together to deploy mobile and stationary monoclonal antibody therapy treatment sites. Click here to find a monoclonal antibody treatment site.