Adherence to Public Health Measures Mitigates the Risk of COVID-19 Infection in Older Adults: A Community-Based Study

Young J. Juhn, Chung Il Wi, Euijung Ryu, Priya Sampathkumar, Paul Y. Takahashi, Joseph D. Yao, Matthew J. Binnicker, Traci L. Natoli, Tamara K. Evans, Katherine S. King, Stephanie Volpe, Jean Yves Pirçon, Damaso Silvia Damaso, Robert J. Pignolo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objective: To assess the prevalence and characteristics of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases during the reopening period in older adults, given that little is known about the prevalence of COVID-19 after the stay-at-home order was lifted in the United States, nor the actual effects of adherence to recommended public health measures (RPHM) on the risk of COVID-19. Patients and Methods: This was a cross-sectional study nested in a parent prospective cohort study, which followed a population-based sample of 2325 adults 50 years and older residing in southeast Minnesota to assess the incidence of viral infections. Participants were instructed to self-collect both nasal and oropharyngeal swabs, which were tested by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction–based severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) assay between May 8, 2020, and June, 30, 2020. We assessed the prevalence of COVID-19 cases and characteristics of study subjects. Results: A total of 1505 eligible subjects participated in the study whose mean age was 68 years, with 885 (59%) women, 32 (2%) racial/ethnic minorities, and 906 (60%) with high-risk conditions for influenza. The prevalence of other Coronaviridae (human coronavirus [HCoV]-229E, HCoV-NL63, and HCoV-OC43) during the 2019 to 2020 flu season was 109 (7%), and none tested positive for SARS-CoV-2. Almost all participants reported adhering to the RPHM (1,488 [99%] for social distancing, 1,438 [96%] for wearing mask in a public space, 1,476 [98%] for hand hygiene, and 1,441 (96%) for staying home mostly). Eighty-six percent of participants resided in a single-family home. Conclusion: We did not identify SARS-COV-2 infection in our study cohort. The combination of participants’ behavior in following the RPHM and their living environment may considerably mitigate the risk of COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)912-920
Number of pages9
JournalMayo Clinic proceedings
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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