The risk of death from COVID-19 increases with age and with comorbidities. The China CDC has published data on this which is very pertinent when it comes to planning efforts. I used this data to create the following graphs.
While children are at very low risk of death from COVID-19, there are many reports of schools closing. Academic models have been published about that approach with mixed results as to their effectiveness. In spite of that, it’s very clear that decisions are often not guided by research so we will likely need to be prepared for school closures that could extend for weeks, and maybe for the rest of the school year, which could affect staff availability for businesses, unless remote work is an option.
The bigger question though is since we have a reasonably good understanding of those at the highest risk of death, where should we be putting our intervention efforts? My opinion is that obviously hospitals and clinics are going to need to ramp up their preparedness activities, but there is an urgency to implement non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs).
It is going to be especially important to protect the elderly. Skilled nursing and assisted living facilities as well as retirement communities and other similar venues are going to need a great deal of education reinforcement on social distancing, respiratory hygiene, and hand hygiene. This also means that they may need to determine if there should be restrictions about visitors as well as trying to ensure that there aren’t problems with presenteeism with their staff.
We have a lot of work to do to be better prepared and an urgency to get these measures in place.