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Tiers of Risk

Older Americans and people with certain existing medical conditions like severe obesity, type-2 diabetes and sickle cell disease are included in the highest tier of risk–officially termed an “increased risk of severe illness”. The CDC identifies a second tier of risk for those who “might be at an increased risk for severe illness” with conditions like asthma, high blood pressure and type-1 diabetes. A third tier of risk identifies populations who “may need extra precautions.” This includes people with disabilities, pregnant mothers, individuals with substance abuse disorder and people experiencing homelessness. Age and medical conditions are not the only factors that play a role in determining a person’s risk of severe illness due to COVID-19. The CDC further identifies racial and ethnic minority groups as being at an increased risk of severe illness due to racial discrimination and disparities in access to health care, employment, education and housing.

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