How at-risk New Yorkers should protect themselves from coronavirus

Posted at 11:01 PM, Mar 09, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-09 23:58:48-04

Marion Monk lives in Queensbridge Houses — the largest public housing development in the country. And she knows New York City like the back of her hand.

So while federal officials are discouraging Americans from taking a cruises, the coronavirus outbreak is, practically speaking, shrinking Monk’s world down a few short walks in her Queens neighborhood one day at a time. Her health issues have a lot do with it.

"I won't want to go anywhere. I go here, to the senior center, I go home. Go to the store, cook, clean, and my two cats," Monk said.

She's a case study in coronavirus vulnerability.

"I have cholesterol, blood pressure, bronchitis, and pain issues," she said. "I also have COPD. That's something where you walk up the stairs and it's hard to breathe."

In fact, generally speaking, the elderly are especially at risk, including those with diabetes and other pre-existing health issues that lead to a compromised immune system.

This demographic is often in a fight for their lives after being infected with illnesses like the coronavirus.

"Anyone with any chronic lung disease, such as asthma or COPD, is at higher risk," said immunologust Dr. Ourvi Parikh. "The same goes for anyone with heart disease, high blood pressure or anyone who's immunocompromised," like someone with cancer or undergoing treatment for cancer.

Diabetes is a new addition to that list of critical underlying health issues, according to Parikh.

"Diabetics are already at an increased risk of getting any kind of infection becaucse it depresses their immune system. So if you think about it, they're more likely to get not only coronavirus, but the flu," she said, along with other infections.