cdc

Absentee voting: CDC’s high-risk conditions for COVID-19 include obesity, smoking, blood pressure

As part of the state’s concessions on absentee balloting to get the Tennessee Supreme Court to throw out an court order allowing anyone fearful of contracting COVID-19 to vote by mail, officials agreed that anyone with a “special vulnerability” to the virus would be allowed to cast an absentee ballot.

Secretary of State Tre Hargett speaks with Rep. Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville) before Gov. Bill Haslam’s final State of the State address on Jan. 29, 2018 in Nashville. (Photo credit: Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

According to guidance released by Secretary of State Tre Hargett on Wednesday, people with an “underlying illness, physical disability, or other health condition and who cannot appear at the polling place on Election Day” can obtain an absentee ballot. That also goes for people who care for someone who does.

The press release urges voters to “consult trusted guidance from medical experts and use common sense in determining whether they have a special vulnerability.” It goes on to suggest looking up the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for more information.

According to the CDC website linked by Hargett’s office, the list of people with increase risk of severe illness from COVID-19 includes:

  • Cancer
  • Chronic kidney disease
  • COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from solid organ transplant
  • Obesity (body mass index [BMI] of 30 or higher)
  • Serious heart conditions, such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, or cardiomyopathies
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Type 2 diabetes mellitus

The CDC says other conditions that might leave people at an increased risk are:

  • Asthma (moderate-to-severe)
  • Cerebrovascular disease (affects blood vessels and blood supply to the brain)
  • Cystic fibrosis
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system) from blood or bone marrow transplant, immune deficiencies, HIV, use of corticosteroids, or use of other immune weakening medicines
  • Neurologic conditions, such as dementia
  • Liver disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Pulmonary fibrosis (having damaged or scarred lung tissues)
  • Smoking
  • Thalassemia (a type of blood disorder)
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus

The release from the Secretary of State’s office follows.

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CDC approves $10M to fight coronavirus in Tennessee

Gov. Bill Lee earlier this week told reporters Tennessee was in line to receive $10 million from the federal government to tackle the coronavirus outbreak in the state. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has now issued a release detailing the grant.

“State and local health departments are on the frontlines of responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, and we are deeply grateful for their work,” U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said in a statement.

Here’s the full statement:

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is announcing another upcoming action by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide $10,078,293 in funding to Tennessee in support of their response efforts to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“State and local health departments are on the frontlines of responding to the COVID-19 outbreak, and we are deeply grateful for their work,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. “CDC is distributing this new funding extremely rapidly, as called for by Congress. President Trump, and his entire administration will continue working to ensure state and local jurisdictions have the resources they need to keep Americans safe and healthy.”

“Our state, local, tribal and territorial public health partners are on the front lines of the COVID-19 response. The action we are taking today will continue to support their efforts to increase public health capacity where it’s needed most,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D. “These funds will allow public health leaders to implement critical steps necessary to contain and mitigate spread of the virus in communities across the country.”

On Friday, March 6, the President signed the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020. The supplemental contains $8.3 billion government-wide, with resources directed for grants or cooperative agreements to states, localities, territories, and tribes to accelerate planning and operational readiness for COVID-19 preparedness and response, as well as develop tools and strategies, provide technical assistance and program support, as well as ensure ongoing communication and coordination among public health agencies and partners throughout the response. 

Today, CDC is contacting State Health Officers to move forward with awarding over $560 million to states, localities, territories, and tribes. CDC will use existing networks to reach out to state and local jurisdictions to access this initial funding.