Experts Urge Action to Help Protect Older Adults from COVID-19

Aging and Infectious Diseases Experts Urge Businesses, Schools, and Government to Work Together to Mitigate Community Spread of COVID-19 and Help Protect Older Adults and Adults with Chronic Health Conditions

Bethesda, MD (March 12, 2020) – The Alliance for Aging Research (Alliance) and the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) are urging businesses, schools, and federal and state governments to work together to mitigate community spread of COVID-19 and help protect older adults and those with pre-existing medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart disease, lung disease, cancer, and/or diabetes), who are at higher risk of serious illness and death from the virus. Both the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have issued advisories to these high-risk groups instructing them to avoid crowds, non-essential travel, and cruise ships. The Alliance and NFID have developed an online resource “Common Questions and Answers about COVID-19 for Older Adults and People with Chronic Health Conditions” to provide up-to-date information, ways for people to help each other, and credible resources for additional guidance.

According to William Schaffner, MD, NFID medical director, adults age 60 years and older should strongly consider avoiding non-essential travel and other activities such as attending crowded events, family gatherings, and religious services. “Older adults and those with underlying health conditions, such as heart disease, lung disease, or diabetes, should keep this advice top of mind: The single most important thing you can do to avoid the virus is to reduce your contact with others,” he said.

“With COVID-19, we all need to examine our responsibility to each other as we think about how to govern our behavior. We can’t think of this epidemic solely in terms of our personal risk. We need to act collectively in a cooperative manner to help protect older adults age 60 years and older and those with chronic conditions,” said Susan Peschin, MHS, president and CEO of the Alliance.

The “Common Questions and Answers on COVID-19 for Older Adults and People with Chronic Health Conditions” resource developed by the Alliance and NFID compiles the COVID-19-related public health guidance specific to older adults and those with chronic health conditions. This resource, which highlights resources from WHO, CDC, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, and others, includes evidence-based advice for minimizing exposure to the disease, tips for recognizing symptoms, and guidance for seeking a diagnosis and necessary medical treatment. The resource is free and available at www.nfid.org/coronaviruses and www.agingresearch.org.

Founded in 1973, the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to educating the public and healthcare professionals about the burden, causes, prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of infectious diseases across the lifespan. For additional information, visit www.nfid.org.

The Alliance for Aging Research is the leading nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the pace of scientific discoveries and their application to vastly improve the universal human experience of aging and health. The Alliance was founded in 1986 in Washington, D.C., and has since become a valued advocacy organization and a respected influential voice with policymakers.

Media Contacts: 

Diana Olson, National Foundation for Infectious Diseases, dolson@nfid.org, (301) 656-0003 x140

Lauren Smith,Alliance for Aging Research, LSmith@agingresearch.org, (240) 498-8123