What Are Coronavirus Underlying Conditions? [Full List of COVID-19 Risks]

coronavirus underlying conditions

Getty This photo from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows a microscopic view of the Coronavirus.

As coronavirus cases increase in the United States, you may often hear that COVID-19 can be worse for people with underlying conditions. But what are those conditions? The CDC has shared a complete list.

The topic has been frequently brought up in news lately, and it was even a topic during the Bernie Sanders vs. Joe Biden Democratic debate, as each candidate discussed their risks. Here’s what the CDC has to say.


The CDC Lists 10 Categories for Underlying Conditions

The CDC released a document on March 12, 2020 titled “Implementation of Mitigation Strategies for Communities with Local COVID-19 Transmission.” In that document, they listed the underlying conditions that could put a person at greater risk of developing severe COVID-19. The CDC noted that the goals of mitigation include slowing the transmission and protecting people at increased risk, including older persons and “persons of any age with underlying health conditions.”

When community transmission is minimal to moderate, people at increased risk should stay at home and avoid gatherings with potential exposure, including travel. At this level, students at increased risk should consider distance-learning and e-learning, the CDC recommends. In the faith-based places of worship and community gatherings, the CDC recommends that high-risk populations not attend gatherings of 10 or more when community transmission is rated minimal to moderate.

The document also lists exactly what the CDC considers to be underlying conditions that can increase your risk. The list is longer than you might expect. Here’s a direct quote from the CDC’s document.

  • Blood disorders (e.g., sickle cell disease or on blood thinners)
  • Chronic kidney disease as defined by your doctor. Patient has been told to avoid or reduce the dose of medications because kidney disease, or is under treatment for kidney disease, including receiving dialysis
  • Chronic liver disease as defined by your doctor. (e.g., cirrhosis, chronic hepatitis) Patient has been told to avoid or reduce the dose of medications because liver disease or is under treatment for liver disease.
  • Compromised immune system (immunosuppression) (e.g., seeing a doctor for cancer and treatment such as chemotherapy or radiation, received an organ or bone marrow transplant, taking high doses of corticosteroids or other immunosuppressant medications, HIV or AIDS)
  • Current or recent pregnancy in the last two weeks
  • Endocrine disorders (e.g., diabetes mellitus)
  • Metabolic disorders (such as inherited metabolic disorders and mitochondrial disorders)
  • Heart disease (such as congenital heart disease, congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease)
  • Lung disease including asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (chronic bronchitis or emphysema) or other chronic conditions associated with impaired lung function or that require home oxygen
  • Neurological and neurologic and neurodevelopment conditions [including disorders of the brain, spinal cord, peripheral nerve, and muscle such as cerebral palsy, epilepsy (seizure disorders), stroke, intellectual disability, moderate to severe developmental delay, muscular dystrophy, or spinal cord injury].

In short, underlying conditions can include chronic liver disease, blood disorders, chronic kidney disease, a compromised immune system, current or recent pregnancy, endocrine disorders like diabetes mellitus, metabolic disorders, heart disease, lung disease (including asthma and COPD, chronic bronchitis, or emphysema), and neurological conditions like cerebral palsy, spinal cord injury, or epilepsy.

Older adults are also considered in the category of underlying conditions.

The CDC specifically calls out diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease as common underlying conditions here. For anyone who falls under these categories, the CDC recommends that you have supplies and necessary medicine on hand now including over-the-counter medicine and have enough household items and groceries “to stay at home for a period of time.”