High-Risk Populations

High-Risk Populations

COVID-19 symptoms range from mild to severe, with a number of factors influencing how someone might respond to the illness. Older adults and people with serious underlying medical conditions are at a higher risk of contracting severe COVID-19.

It is important that these higher-risk populations take preventative measures and educate themselves on available treatments. Populations who are vulnerable to severe COVID-19 include:

  • People aged 50 years and older.
  • Pregnant or recently pregnant people.
  • People who live in a nursing home or long-term care facility.
  • People who live in jails and prisons.
  • 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.
    • Smokers.
    • Substance abuse disorders.

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 or sore throat.

Infographic: Protection, Planning and Care for Older Adults


Talk to your Health Care Provider about Potential Treatments

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

Monoclonal antibody therapy is available in Florida and can prevent hospitalization or death in high-risk patients with COVID-19. Treatment is free and available to high-risk COVID-19 patients over 12 years old. Find a monoclonal antibody therapy site.

Paxlovid and Molnupiravir oral antiviral treatment are oral antiviral treatments available in Florida. Find an oral antiviral treatment site.




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.
  • Wear a face cover in public.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
  • Practice social distancing.
  • 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 are concerned about a potential exposure and your health status, get tested for COVID-19 at a testing site near you.

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.

As of May 2022, several treatment options are available under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) for COVID-19:

  • Options for patients not requiring hospitalization or supplemental oxygen include Paxlovid, Molnupiravir, Bebtelovimab, and remdesivir.
  • If eligible, and within five days of symptom onset, Paxlovid should be considered the first treatment option.
  • Bebtelovimab is currently the only monoclonal antibody treatment available for patients who test positive for COVID-19.

Eligible individuals should contact their health care provider to find out if which treatment option is appropriate for them.

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.

Individuals eligible for Evusheld should contact their health care provider if interested in this pre-exposure therapy.