Coronavirus can be especially dangerous for older adults, but health experts have special guidelines to stay safe.

The majority of people who get COVID-19 have minor symptoms, McClatchy News reports. But older adults and people with some health conditions, such as diabetes and heart or lung disease, are at a higher risk of severe symptoms if infected with the virus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

It’s extra important for people at a high risk to avoid getting sick in the case of a coronavirus outbreak, the CDC says.

If there is an outbreak in your area, it may be necessary to stay home for a “prolonged period of time,” the CDC says, so it’s important to stock up on supplies such as food, household items and medications.

Call your doctor about getting extra prescription medicines just in case, the CDC recommends. Using mail-order to get medicine is another option.

It’s also important to have over-the-counter medications on hand to treat a fever and other symptoms.

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Older adults and those at higher risk should “stay home as much as possible” and avoid crowds during an outbreak to avoid being infected, the CDC says. When out, limit close contact with others, especially those who are sick, and wash your hands often.

“Once you get a certain number of cases, it’s hard to continue to contact-trace back the way you tried originally,” Dr. Peter Beilenson, head of the Sacramento County’s Department of Health Services, told The Sacramento Bee. “So we move to mitigation, which is basically trying to mitigate the risk to those who are most at risk: the elderly and those with chronic underlying conditions.”

People at a higher risk for COVID-19 should also avoid taking cruises and traveling on airplanes if possible, the CDC says.

Other nonessential activities, such as going to see a movie, shopping at the mall and attending family events, should also be avoided, Dr. William Schaffner, a CDC adviser, told CNN.

“This ought to be top of mind for people over 60, and those with underlying health problems, such as heart or lung disease, diabetes, or compromised immune systems,” Schaffner told CNN. “The single most important thing you can do to avoid the virus is reduce your face to face contact with people.”

Taking “everyday precautions” is helpful as well, the CDC says.

These include cleaning and disinfecting your home often, avoid shaking hands and touching public “high-touch surfaces” like elevator buttons and handrails and washing hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.

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(Anika Varty / The Seattle Times)

What if you get sick?

Knowing the symptoms of the coronavirus is important.

If you develop a fever, cough and shortness of breath, the CDC says to call your doctor. If “emergency warning signs” develop, including trouble breathing, chest pain or pressure, confusion or “bluish lips or face,” get immediate help.

It’s also important to have a plan in place if you do get sick.

The CDC recommends talking to your doctor about monitoring your symptoms, staying in touch with people who can help you if you get sick and knowing who can help you if your caregiver is sick.

If a family member or someone you’re taking care of is at a higher risk, the CDC says to make sure they have enough medicine on hand and enough food and other supplies. It’s also important to check in on those living in care facilities and to know facility protocols in the case of an outbreak.

©2020 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

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