The novel coronavirus pandemic is keeping Americans away from the doctor’s office. For most people, that means little more than postponing a dental checkup or enduring a minor illness at home.
But those with chronic medical conditions ― especially ailments that make them more susceptible to infections like COVID-19 ― face a nerve-wracking choice between staying home and letting their health deteriorate or taking their chances with the virus to get their regular care.
An estimated 45% of Americans, or about 133 million people, have some kind of chronic medical condition, like diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and arthritis, according to an analysis published in 2018.
These ailments require ongoing care in the form of frequent doctor visits, lab tests, scans, and medications administered in medical facilities. But these facilities are also places where people can contract the coronavirus, making life-or-death decisions about other health care more complicated.