The terms coronavirus and COVID-19 have struck panic in people across the globe. This is certainly understandable given the statistics of those impacted and the unprecedented fallout in every segment of society in every country of the world. With so many hospitals being overwhelmed by patients needing beds and ventilators, and the growing numbers of those who have lost their lives to the disease, fear over COVID-19 have been understandable. While fatality as a potential outcome is alarming, some dread may be mitigated by understanding some of the pandemic terminology.

The coronavirus vernacular
The coronavirus is actually a broad label in the sense that there are many kinds of the human coronavirus. Some are known to cause mild upper-respiratory tract conditions, such as the common cold, whereas other types present a more serious situation, such as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome).

The coronavirus identified in 2019 is a new type not seen before in humans, hence the term “novel coronavirus.” COVID-19 is the official name announced by the World Health Organization for the disease causing the outbreak of the 2019 novel coronavirus.

The acronym is represented by “CO” for corona, “VI” for virus and “D” for disease. Note that COVID-19 refers to the disease caused by the virus, not the virus itself. The distinction between the common coronavirus and COVID-19 is critical because it impacts patient evaluation and care.

The risk of death to certain populations
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it appears that the people who are most vulnerable to higher risk for the development of more dire complications due to the virus are older adults. CDC reports that eight out of 10 deaths reported in the United States have occurred among adults 65 years old and older. The percentage of deaths among U.S. adults with a confirmed diagnosis of COVID-19 is estimated to be 4% to 11% of adults 65 to 84 years old and 10% to 27% of adults 85 years old and older.

Also at high risk is anyone with serious underlying medical conditions, such as heart disease, lung ailments, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, liver disease, severe obesity, moderate to severe asthma and those with a compromised immunity system.

Medicare coverage relative to COVID-19
Based on the CDC reports, Medicare has advised that most Medicare recipients are at a higher risk. In response, the website explains the following details relative to COVID-19 coverage, noting the same benefits for those enrolled in Medicare Advantage:

  • Lab tests with no out-of-pocket expense.
  • All medically necessary hospitalization, including hospital stays under quarantine.
  • Vaccine if one becomes available.

The official Medicare website has dedicated a section for guidance and resources.

Resources for more information
For the most accurate and up-to-date information on this disease, visit the official websites of the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Protection. Medicare recipients who suspect they may need testing or medical attention to address COVID-19 symptoms should visit

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