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Most People Get "Bad COVID" This Way, Experts Say

Three ways that make COVID worse for some people.

COVID cases are finally starting to decline, but unfortunately that doesn't mean the pandemic is over or that we can stop taking precautions to help avoid the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently tweeted, "#COVID19 cases are dropping across most of the country but community spread remains high. The 7-day average of daily new cases is 215,418, a 42.8% decrease from last week. Get vaccinated as soon as you can & get a booster when you're eligible." Staying healthy and taking measures to prevent catching the virus is still important for several reasons including, there's no way to tell how your body is going to react if you get COVID since it's different for everyone. That said, it's almost a guarantee that it's going to be worse for some people because of various factors. Eat This, Not That! Health spoke with Erica Susky, an Infection Control Practitioner (ICP) in hospital epidemiology who revealed three ways that make the virus worse for some people and why you shouldn't expose yourself to COVID to get it over with. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Underlying Medical Conditions

hospitalized woman in bed with hand on shoulder
Shutterstock/ESB Professional

Susky explains, "Though it is uncertain who may get severe COVID-19, there are groups at greater risk. People who have medical conditions are more likely to get severe COVID-19 as these may compromise one's health, immune system and the ability to ward off a severe infection. Such conditions include cancer, dementia, neurological diseases, heart disease, diabetes, obesity, HIV, pregnancy, stroke; and chronic kidney, liver and lung diseases."

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The Older Community is at a Greater Risk

Distraught senior man sitting at hospital waiting room while female doctor is holding his hand and comforting him

"Older individuals are at a greater risk of severe COVID-19 as the immune system weakens as people age," says Susky. "Those with conditions that make one immune compromised are at risk for the same reason of a weakened immune system (HIV, tuberculosis, organ and stem cell transplant, and those on immunosuppressive medications)."

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Other Social Factors

Elderly senior dementia patient in nursing hospice home holding geriatrician doctor's hand

Susky states, "Other social factors put one at risk for acquiring severe COVID-19 as they are marginalized groups with systemic social and health inequities. This would include race/ethnicity, those in poverty or crowding, and those with mental health issues."

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How Exposing Yourself to COVID Puts the Community at Risk

Young woman wearing protective mask on a crowded street

According to Susky, "It is especially dangerous to intentionally acquire COVID-19 as one cannot know who they may invariably infect with SARS-CoV-2. The virus is most transmissible up to 48 hours and until symptoms first appear, and the symptoms could appear up to 14 days after one's exposure (the maximum incubation period of SARS-CoV-2). It would be exceedingly difficult to predict when one may acquire and may be in the highest point of their infectious period. The potential to spread SARS-CoV-2 to others could carry large consequences; vulnerable people are still being hospitalized and are dying from the Omicron VOC. One may risk exposing a more vulnerable individual to the Omicron VOC. Another consequence of spreading the virus to others is that one may spread the virus to those who work in high-risk settings (congregate settings like nursing homes or hospitals)."

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How Many Times Can You Get COVID-19 and Omicron?

Negative test result by using rapid test device for COVID-19, novel coronavirus

Susky explains, "COVID-19 immunity and vaccine effectiveness wanes over a few months. Though Omicron is still relatively new, one would expect that one could be re-infected in a few months if Omicron is still the predominant circulating strain. There are now many well documented instances of people getting COVID-19 more than once. This is something one can see with the same SARS-CoV-2 strain, and can occur many times too if more VOCs continue to emerge."   

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How to Stay Safe Out There

Nurse with face mask sitting at home with senior woman and injecting covid 19 vaccine.

Follow the public health fundamentals and help end this pandemic, no matter where you live—get vaccinated or boosted ASAP; if you live in an area with low vaccination rates, wear an N95 face mask, don't travel, social distance, avoid large crowds, don't go indoors with people you're not sheltering with (especially in bars), practice good hand hygiene, and to protect your life and the lives of others, don't visit any of these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.

Heather Newgen
Heather Newgen has two decades of experience reporting and writing about health, fitness, entertainment and travel. Heather currently freelances for several publications. Read more about Heather
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