President Trump's COVID-19 diagnosis highlights high risk factors for severe COVID-19 cases

Posted at 7:20 PM, Oct 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-02 19:21:49-04

TAMPA, Fla. — President Donald Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis is highlighting the people most vulnerable for a severe case of COVID-19. Tampa Bay area doctors say the revelation serves as a reminder everyone needs to take preventative health measures seriously.

“This virus can affect any of us,” said Tampa General’s Dr. Jason Wilson. “The most powerful person in the world has the virus, so now we know this virus can definitively affect anyone.”

President Trump announced early Friday morning on Twitter he and the First Lady tested positive for COVID-19, saying they would begin their quarantine and recovery process immediately. At 74 years old, doctors note the President's age and weight as putting him at a higher risk of severe illness.

“If we look at patients who get hospitalized, patients who go to the ICU, patients who get incubated, patients who get put on a life-saving technology called ECMO, which is essentially a machine that does the work of your heart and lungs for you, and then patients who even have really bad outcomes like death, we know that those patients are 90 percent explained by having other risk factors,” said Dr. Wilson.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) laid out your risk of hospitalization if you have certain conditions and get COVID-19 compared to people without those conditions. Asthma puts people at 1.5 times greater risk, diabetes and obesity (BMI ≥ 30) tripled the risk, while a combination of two conditions put someone at more than four times greater risk.

The CDC also says age increases the risk for severe illness from COVID-19, with older adults at the highest risk. It says, “8 out of 10 COVID-19-related deaths reported in the United States have been among adults aged 65 years and older.”

“The bottom line is this is a nasty virus that shouldn’t be ignored and minimized in any way, but the good news is we can prevent transmission by some really simple things that just need to be incorporated in our day to day life,” said USF Health professor Dr. Marissa Levine.

Dr. Levine says think physical distancing, wearing masks and washing your hands, which could even help during flu season.

“These are communicable, that means infectious, diseases that can be transmitted one to another, and I think that really says that we all have a responsibility as members of a society to do what we know works to protect ourselves, our loved ones, and then other people we come into contact to,” said Dr. Levine. “It’s not rocket science.”