COVID-19 is a novel coronavirus that can cause several symptoms, including fever, coughing, shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. As COVID-19 continues to spread in the United States, it is important for everyone to take the necessary precautions to help prevent infection and spread of the virus. Individuals over 60 years of age and those with pre-existing medical conditions, including diabetes, are at the highest risk for complications.
Recent studies have shown that of those hospitalized for severe disease, 22.2% to 26.9% reported living with diabetes. Diabetes and high glucose levels are associated with increased complications, respiratory failure and mortality in hospitalized patients with COVID-19.
Because people with diabetes may also have other comorbidities such as organ failure and cardiovascular disease, it is imperative they follow specific COVID-19 precautions and prevention guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO) and their endocrinologist or health care providers.
The following actions recommended by the federal government will help people with diabetes prepare for and help prevent the spread of COVID-19, including:
- Continue to take your prescribed medications.
- Refill prescriptions and be prepared with medications and testing supplies. Your state may provide the opportunity to purchase an additional 30-day supply of insulin and other diabetes medications when a state of emergency is declared. Please check with your individual state’s department of health website.
- To support advance preparations, AACE’s My Diabetes Emergency Plan provides resources for health care professionals and patients, including a checklist with essential items those with diabetes need to have readily available.
- If visiting the pharmacy is not an option, patients should consider medication delivery via mail.
- Stay home as much as possible to reduce your risk of being exposed.
- When you do go out in public, avoid crowds and limit close contact with others.
- Avoid non-essential travel.
- Wash your hands with soap and water regularly, for at least 20 seconds, especially before eating or drinking and after using the restroom and blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.
- If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.
- Cover your nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing with a tissue or a flexed elbow, then throw the tissue in the trash.
- Avoid touching your eyes, mouth or nose when possible.
- If you present with symptoms such as fever, cough, shortness of breath or wheezing, especially if you believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19 or live in or have recently traveled to an area with ongoing spread, call or see a health care professional immediately.
- Explain any symptoms, recent travel or possible exposure to COVID-19. Your health care professional will work with your state’s public health department and CDC to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.
The priority of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE) is the health and safety of staff, members and their patients. AACE will continue to monitor developments surrounding COVID-19 and will provide updated information regarding steps necessary to help prevent infection.
For further information and regular updates on the COVID-19 outbreak, please visit the CDC or WHO websites.