How Do We Afford Our Insulin During an Economic Crisis?

COVID-19 has caused widespread panic across the globe, and that has quickly become apparent given the recent bear stock market, which hasn’t been seen since the Great Recession over a decade ago. You may have seen your IRAs and 401ks plummet in recent weeks because investors are scared.

Some economists are predicting that the United States could even see up to a 30% unemployment rate, as layoffs sore from the mandatory closings of restaurants, bars, gyms, coffee shops, and retail stores across the nation, trying to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the disease that is caused by the novel coronavirus. You may have experienced a recent layoff or reduced hours as a direct result of COVID-19, and if you have, your health insurance may have taken a hit as well (or gone away altogether). So, how can we afford our insulin during an economic crisis? Here is our (hopefully!) helpful advice:

If You’ve Lost Your Job

File for unemployment insurance immediately. Most states require that you’ve lived/worked in the state in which you’re applying for benefits for at least six months to qualify, and you don’t qualify if you quit or were fired from your most recent job. These bi-weekly payments have a cap (depending on your income and the state in which you live), but can definitely help you in the short term until you’re able to find new employment. Congress recently passed the COVID Stimulus Package, which includes expanded unemployment benefits (extending by 13 weeks), and enhances said benefits for four months. The program has also been broadened to include freelancers, furloughed employees and gig workers, such as Uber and Lyft drivers.

Special Enrollment Period

It’s well-known that one must sign-up for health insurance during “open enrollment”, which is a time period, usually once a year, when individuals and employees of companies and organizations may make changes to or buy different health insurance plans. Under the Affordable Care Act, a change in your personal situation, such as getting married, having a child, or losing your health coverage (by way of losing your job) makes you eligible for a Special Enrollment Period, which allows you to enroll in health insurance outside of the typical open enrollment period.

In response to COVID, many Governors are creating SEPs (Special Enrollment Periods) to specifically address people’s concerns over having health insurance and affording their medication during the global pandemic. If you currently do not have health insurance (by choice), but are worried about affording your insulin, or are particularly concerned about contracting COVID19, you may be able to take advantage of a SEP in your state.

See If You Qualify for Medicaid

As of now, 36 states have expanded eligibility for their state Medicaid programs (to 138% FPL), which offer extremely affordable insulin and diabetes care. If you’re a low-wage worker whose employer doesn’t offer health insurance, and you can’t comfortably afford to buy a plan, see if you qualify for Medicaid. Many Governors are looking into expanding Medicaid even further during the national public health emergency.

Cash Relief is Coming

Congress recently passed a $2 trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Package that includes direct cash payments to all American taxpayers. Lawmakers agreed to provide $1200 in a direct (single time) payment to taxpayers making up to $75,000 per year, with $5 less for every $100 per year a person makes all the way up to $99,000. Families will receive an additional $500 per child, in an attempt to create a safety net for people whose jobs and businesses have been negatively affected during this public health turned economic crisis. This bump of cash will help millions of Americans, including people with diabetes, afford their medications easier in the short term while longer-term policy solutions are worked out to help everyone during this crisis.

If All Else Fails, Reach Out for Help

If you’re still struggling to afford your medication, you can reach out to your insulin manufacturer for help: Lilly Cares, NovoCare, and Sanofi Patient Connection can help get you free or discounted insulin when you’re in a desperate spot. Currently, insulin manufacturers are not anticipating any supply-chain issues as a result of COVID-19.

Additionally, the diabetes online community (on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) is an amazing resource of dedicated activists and helpful hands who are always more than willing to help fellow people with diabetes in need. Reach out to your friends and family and let them know you’re struggling. Ask your doctor if they have any samples of insulin you can take from the clinic for free. Let your struggle be known, so people can help you. Do not suffer in silence.

Have you had issues affording your medications and/or insulin during this global pandemic turned economic crisis? What strategies have helped you? Share this post and comment below, we love to hear your stories and suggestions!


COVID-19: Ways to Boost Your Immune System

COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, is spreading at breakneck speed across the globe, and people are terrified. Currently, there is no vaccine and no cure (although treatment helps, and in most cases the disease resolves itself within two weeks). The thing that’s scariest about this virus is the term “novel”- this means that it’s completely new, and has never been seen before in humans, so our immune systems cannot adequately fight it off (like we usually can against a cold or sore throat).

While the best ways to prevent getting COVID-19 are handwashing, avoiding sick people, and social distancing, if you contract the virus, there are a number of ways to make sure your immune system is in top shape to help fight it off. Here are our top ways, below:

Manage Your Blood Sugars

Excellent blood sugar management makes people living with diabetes more likely to effectively combat infections of all kinds. “For all my diabetes friends, please invest time to focus on taking the best care you can with your blood sugars. It is the best defense against a COVID-19 infection, without a doubt,” says Dr. Stephen Ponder, the author of Sugar Surfing.

Persistently high blood sugars make us more susceptible to uncontrollable infection, which can lead to severe complications if one contracts COVID-19. Stay extra vigilant by testing frequently, counting carbohydrates, maintaining some semblance of an exercise routine (which can be hard when gyms across the nation are closing to help prevent the spread of the virus), and try to manage stress.

Get Enough Sleep

Sleep is the body’s way to replenish and recharge all the cells in your body (especially brain cells). When one sleeps, the body naturally heals itself. While recommendations vary, most adults should aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night. This will be crucial to heal the body from normal wear and tear, and to help build up one’s immunity should you come into contact with COVID-19, or even a cold or the seasonal flu.

Don’t Smoke

If you’re a smoker, now is an excellent time to quit. The COVID-19 virus is respiratory, meaning it affects the lungs, and in severe cases causes pneumonia that can be fatal. People most susceptible to severe complications from COVID-19 include older adults (over 60), smokers, and people with chronic health conditions, including diabetes, asthma, and COPD. Smoking is bad for so many reasons, and tanks your immune response, makes you more susceptible to infections, damages your lungs, and increases your risks for severe complications from COVID-19. Check out these resources to help you quit.

Eat the Rainbow

It’s true what your mom said: eat your fruits and vegetables! Fruits and vegetables are full of vitamins, minerals, and healthy fiber that is extremely beneficial to one’s health. Citrus fruits have shown to be particularly beneficial in boosting immunity: grapefruits, oranges, lemons, limes, tomatoes, kiwi, tangerines, clementines. Fun fact: ounce for ounce, red bell peppers contain about twice as much vitamin C as citrus fruits. If in doubt, the more colorful your plate, the better. Getting to the grocery store may be hard right now, but services like Instant Care and Amazon Fresh can deliver fresh produce right to your door, making healthy eating a little easier during this time.


Exercise has been proven to boost immunity, and even a little can go a long way. Exercise mobilizes T cells, which are a type of white blood cell that guards against infection. Just make sure not to overdo it (extreme, continuous exercise actually wears the body down and can make you more susceptible to illness). The CDC recommends that most adults get 150 minutes of moderate activity per week, like walking, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week like running. And you can break that up into smaller chunks of time, and get creative: running up and down the stairs, gardening, vacuuming, jumping rope, mopping the floors, and walking your dog all count! Currently, only 22.9% of U.S. adults ages 18-64 met the CDC exercise guidelines between 2010-2015.

What strategies do you use to boost your immune system? Share this post and comment below! We love to hear your ideas!


Managing the Emotional Toll of Diabetes and COVID-19

The world as we know it has changed due to COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus. The number of businesses closing, people being quarantined (mandatorily or voluntarily), laws changing to contain the spread of the disease in the United States, cities invoking curfews and travel bans, and people dying is changing by the hour. If it suddenly feels as though you traveled through time and landed in the zombie apocalypse, you’re not alone.

Add to that the layered anxiety and worry that comes with having diabetes in the time of an unmitigated infectious disease (of global pandemic proportions) disaster, and it can become too much to manage. It can be a complicated mix of concern for the world, the risk to yourself, and how you feel about the risk to loved ones in an environment of uncertainties and unknown unknowns. Here are our top ways to manage the stress:

Know the Facts

Having diabetes doesn’t necessarily put you at any higher risk for getting COVID-19, but you can be susceptible to more severe complications if you acquire the disease. Do not panic. Do not get sucked down into the rabbit hole of myths and conspiracy theories. Learn the facts from reputable sources only. Following advice from The World Health Organization and the CDC are two good places to start. You may have increased anxiety around diabetes and coronavirus (that’s expected and warranted), but unnecessary stress doesn’t help, either.


Most of us are working from home these days, and while that’s an excellent way to help contain the spread of disease and protect people with preexisting conditions like diabetes, it’s also keeping many people glued to their screens for most of the day, and that means, glued to the news. Get away from your computer screen, the news, Twitter, and the chaos of Facebook for some time each day (walks outside are excellent, now that the spring weather is upon us!). Set limits on how much you watch the news (it’s crucial to stay informed, it’s not so crucial to watch CNN for 7 hours straight). Or better yet, limit screen time to evenings only.

Infographic by The World Health Organization

Be Prepared, Not Panicked

There’s only so much you can do, but make sure you do it! Practice proper social distancing, hand washing techniques, stay home if you’re sick, and avoid crowded places, sick people, and high traffic areas (airports, etc.).

If you can, stock up on two weeks’ worth of food, toiletries, and medication, and make arrangements to work from home, if able. It’s understandable that most people cannot afford to stock up on fresh food and medication. More affordable, shelf-stable food items that can go a long way include canned goods and frozen vegetables, and dried beans and rice. That being said, there’s no need to necessarily hoard grocery items, as grocery stores do not have any supply-chain issues and hoarding for yourself may cause deprivation for others (although, of course, make sure you have more than enough supplies to treat low blood sugar at home). Additionally, check out our advice for obtaining additional diabetes supplies without breaking your budget during this crisis.

If your job requires in-person time (if you work in the service industry, are a healthcare worker, provide city services such as garbage collection or sanitation, or your boss simply won’t budge on a work from home arrangement), try and maintain 6 feet distance between you and others, ask for latex gloves if you work in a grocery store or are a mail carrier and touch lots of objects (be sure you know the proper way to use them!), and avoid standing near sick people. Also, wash your hands thoroughly and often. If you can find it, hand sanitizer also is extremely helpful when on the job if running water and soap aren’t readily available. COVID-19 is caused by a novel Coronavirus, meaning it’s never been seen before, and the epidemiological characteristics of the spread of the disease are still being uncovered. It’s best to use extreme caution. It’s recently been revealed that it *may* be airborne, although studies are conflicting.

After you’ve adequately prepared, don’t continue to panic. Falling to hysteria won’t help anyone, but being prepared can give you peace of mind if you’re forced to be at home for a while.

How to Protect Others from Getting Sick - Coronavirus 2

Infographic by The World Health Organization

Move Your Body

Exercise is one of the main ways to decrease stress, and just because many cities are closing down their gyms, doesn’t mean you can’t move your body. Aim for a moderate activity for at least 30 minutes every single day. Warming weather can mean outdoor runs or walks, bike rides or hikes, and YouTube is an excellent resource for yoga and meditation classes and various cardio routines. Check out this article for even more ideas! You may not be able to control a lot right now, but moving your body is one concrete thing you can do to feel better.

Create Structure

With school closings and changing work routines, nothing feels normal right now and that can cause a lot of anxiety. Try to create some sort of structured routine (small changes can make a big difference!). Wake up at your normal time, even if you don’t have a commute right now. Make your bed every morning. Shower. Put on pants (yes, some people need a reminder to change out of their PJs when working from home!). If you usually have Tuesday night pasta night, have your Tuesday night pasta night. Sticking to a routine is especially important if you have children at home and they’re not in school currently, but a routine is healthy for everyone.

Check in on Your People

Gathering in crowds is not recommended right now, per CDC guidelines, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check in on your friends and family. Skype, FaceTime, or even good old-fashioned texts and phone calls are excellent ways to stay in touch with everyone. We’re all in this together, and reminding people that they aren’t alone is crucial right now for mental health and sanity.

Supporting loved ones amid covid-19 pandemic

Infographic by The World Health Organization

Do Something Tangible

When you take away social gathering, date nights out, going to the movies, playing mini-golf, going bowling, and your kids’ weekly ballet class, everything suddenly feels…digital. Do something tangible: clean out the garage you’ve been meaning to clean out for the past 2 years, go through your clothes for Goodwill donations, repaint and rearrange a room, learn how to knit, dig around in your garden, pull out the dusty Scrabble and Scattergories games from the basement and have a game night, master your grandma’s cornbread recipe–anything that is physical will benefit you tremendously, and help peel you away from the constant stream of anxiety-provoking news.

Eat Healthy

The whole world being on pause right now might have given you license to stress-eat ice cream every night last week, or pour one too many glasses of wine over the weekend, but keeping a healthy eating routine will fuel your body and make you feel better over the long run. What feels good in the moment isn’t always the best thing for us over the long haul, and making sure we’re drinking enough water, eating plenty of vegetables, and getting good sources of protein will sustain us much better than ice cream ever could (sorry to say!).

Allow Yourself Some Grace

The world isn’t operating at 100% right now, and so it’s okay that you aren’t, either. You haven’t been able to concentrate on your work emails at all? Haven’t had the motivation to cook an elaborate meal? Not feeling optimistic about the future? Give yourself some grace, and allow yourself to slow down and feel this moment. This is a global pandemic, and (hopefully only) a once-in-a-lifetime event. Things are not normal, and it’s unreasonable to expect yourself to pretend like everything’s okay. It’s okay to not be okay right now.

Know This Is Only Temporary

Everything is in extremes right now, and it’s foreign to many of us. Maybe you’ve had to cancel travel plans, maybe you’ve had to return home from a study abroad program early, or you’re missing out on a Broadway play. Maybe you’ve even postponed your wedding. These are not normal times, and things won’t always be like this. Eventually, you will be able to go to the movies again, go to concerts with large crowds and not worry, get dinners, go bowling and grab happy hour without a care, and when you do, you can toast to happiness and good health, and getting through this horrific time, together.

How are you coping emotionally during this difficult and complicated time in the world? Share this article to help a friend, and comment your thoughts below; we would love to hear them!


The Problem with How COVID-19 Risk Is Being Discussed

This content originally appeared here. Republished with permission.

By Caroline Levens

There are 24 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in my county, and I’ll admit it: I’m very worried about the outbreak. Call me crazy as I sit in my apartment with mountains of supplies and food that could easily get me through June, but I’m part of the group largely dismissed by mainstream media. I’m immunocompromised and have underlying chronic health conditions.

Article after article says something along the lines of “most COVID-19 illness is mild, only those over the age of 70 or who are immunocompromised or have existing health conditions, such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease, are likely to experience serious illness.” They then go on to say that most people with mild conditions will recover, so people just need to stay calm and wash their hands. Aside from that sole line, the high-risk group has no other mention in the article.

If you’re in the majority group and are indeed at lower risk, I’m glad COVID-19 may not be as threatening to you. But here’s the thing: you likely have parents, grandparents, friends, colleagues and maybe even children who read the exact same statement from the other side. In fact, according to a Department of Health and Human Services analysis, over 50 million non-elderly Americans have some type of pre-existing health condition.

Facts are facts, and believe me, I want the facts. So what’s wrong with saying those groups are at a greater risk? Absolutely nothing – what’s wrong is the insensitive tone they come across with when they give the fact a quick nod and devote the remainder of the article to the people who don’t need to worry, and that saying ‘only’ the “the elderly, immunocompromised and unhealthy” belittles the value of this group. Comparing the average low-risk American to the high-risk group to help reassure them that at least their personal odds are better than some is in poor taste.

Sure, they’re writing towards mass America. But “the elderly, immunocompromised and unhealthy” is no small group, and the people in this group deserve better. While at a bare minimum an emphatic tone would be appreciated, the articles could share what precautions low risk individuals could take to protect those who are at higher risk. Their “mild” case could be life-threatening to someone else who contracts it from them, and it’s important they’re aware of that and how to minimize spread. Current articles make little sense: they focus on reassuring the people at lowest risk and exclude the high-risk group who needs it most. And it’s not just the high-risk group this matters for: it’s their children, grandchildren, parents and caretakers, among others.

The truth is, you have no idea who might be in this high-risk group, or who has loved ones that are in this high-risk group. Just the other day I was told I was taking excessive precautions and I’d be fine because I’m in my late-20s and look healthy (that’s exactly what invisible illness is!). And if you’re fortunate enough to be low-risk, let me tell you, it doesn’t feel great seeing the mortality rate for your condition five times higher than the average American, based on the limited data available from the Chinese Center for Disease Control & Prevention. I should also add the concern isn’t just about getting COVID-19; it’s about COVID-19 putting such a strain on the health system that individuals with chronic health conditions may not have access to the physicians, medications and treatments they need.

So all in all: please consider how you’re coming across when you talk about COVID-19. If you’re able to go about your day-to-day life unaffected, I’m glad you’re in good health and feeling little disruption. But there is nothing wrong with preparedness or being overly cautious. Life is precious, and I’ll happily work, eat and hang at home to reduce my risk and the anxiety stemming from the staggering fatality figures.


COVID-19: Perspective of a Type 1 Healthcare Worker

Kelly Pearson is a family nurse practitioner who works at a busy urgent care center, and also lives with type 1 diabetes. Kelly took the time to answer some of our most pressing questions concerning the Coronavirus outbreak. Thank you, Kelly, for your time, and for being on the front lines during such an uncertain time, putting yourself at risk to help others.


I understand you work for Fairview Health Services, one of the largest Urgent Care in our country, in suburban St. Paul, MN. At what point did your organization start preparing for the COVID-19 breakout? 

I’m not sure, but we started testing for COVID-19 via drive up cars at my urgent care 8 days ago [around March 10th].

As a family nurse practitioner who is on the front lines, seeing how medical professionals are preparing, do you think we as a country will be able to handle the outbreak and treat all necessary patients?

I have friends that work as ER docs at Hennepin County Medical Center, a large teaching hospital in downtown Minneapolis, and their ultimate plan is to hand out flyers at the door stating that there is no medicine and no testing available for COVID and that the recommendation is to go home and get people to voluntarily sign out. Sadly, they are legally required to see all patients that want to be seen, which will overwhelm the healthcare system quickly if people refuse to go home, and you simply can’t keep them from infecting others in a crowded waiting room. That may simply include a vital sign and lung check and discharge home. I don’t know anything about the ICU capacity and how that’s going, but if regular hospitals are full, we can access the VA.

I don’t know how this will go. I think there will be harder hit areas and nurses from one state may need to up and leave to help as travelers. I hope they will suspend lengthy state-to-state nursing and physician license issues for this.

I read that people with diabetes are not more susceptible to contracting the virus, but the concern is what happens once we get it. What are the main concerns specific to people with diabetes? And, is the risk different for those who have type 1 vs.type 2 diabetes?

I would read this to answer this question. The key message is that well-controlled diabetics seem to do as well as other people their age, assuming they have no additional comorbid conditions, such as heart disease.

Being around patients who have the virus, what do you see as the most challenging aspect of the illness. What should people be most concerned about?

In Urgent Care, the most difficult thing is keeping people out of Urgent Care. We have had patients ignore signs telling them to go back to their car and call-in number for further advice and contaminate the whole clinic, for instance. People need to know that we are not able to help you at all, at least in Minnesota, unless you are severely ill and can’t breathe and then you need to go to the hospital. We are not even allowed to give a nebulizer to an asthmatic with likely Coronavirus because it will cause the virus to live in the air for several hours. You want to help, but you can’t. It sucks.

COVID-19 Perspective of a Type 1 Healthcare Worker 2

Kelly at work with her coworker in the Urgent Care, Jason Kimmel, PA

Having type 1 diabetes yourself, how are you staying healthy so that you don’t contract it? I’m sure you are stressed, tired and overworked?

Unfortunately, my gym closed until further notice today. The gym owners are putting up home workouts and actually let us borrow equipment to take home. Today, I did a bodyweight workout that actually kicked my butt.

I’m tired AF.

Something I didn’t think about was how tiring it is to always be aware of what you’re touching, including your face and surfaces. At work, I go by the presumption that all surfaces that come into contact with patients are at least intermittently contaminated with the virus. Information also changes by the hour, and we have to learn something and then unlearn it an hour or two later.

The thing that has stressed me out the most this week was the announcement this morning that no patients will receive COVID-19 testing unless they are healthcare workers or hospitalized. Minnesota only had the capacity to do testing for those with fevers, coughs with international travel or known exposures for 7 days. Basically, the only thing we’re tracking now is hospitalizations.

Do you feel comfortable being around loved ones knowing that you’ve been in such close contact, despite the hospitals taking all protective measures?

Good question. I think people are more scared of me because I work in a testing site.  I think my boyfriend is starting to get scared of me, but he’s still being supportive anyway. To make things worse, I get seasonal allergies right around now, so I’ve been aggressively treating those. I otherwise live alone.

As someone who has seen the symptoms and complications associated with this disease, as a person with diabetes, are you worried about your own health if you should contract COVID-19? I’ve read that vitamin D might help?

Yes, I’m worried about my health. I hope that being a lifelong athlete will do something. I think vitamin D helps all infections, but I don’t know of any statistic off the top of my head.

Many people are taking this very seriously, but some are not, including some millennials and the elderly. What would your message be to them?

As a Christian, we are supposed to work together, love your neighbor as yourself, not be selfish. I’ve seen a lot of instances of this so far. I think folks are coming around overall, but we’ve shut everything down to prove our point, too.

As this was so far an international travel and cruise ship issue for the most part (the overwhelming majority of patients are white and upper-middle-class), I’m mostly worried about when it hits our refugee and the immigrant population, who cannot readily access written information and may not trust information from the government. I have not seen information posted in other languages in the community. Hopefully, it’s getting there and accurate.

Overall, leaving politics out of it (albeit challenging), some people think we may be overreacting or that the media is hyping this up. How serious do you think this virus is and how serious should people take the instructions coming from ours/their government? 

Computer models show we’re about 11 days behind Italy. We’re really only a week into this here. During H1N1, we ran out of ventilators at our hospital in downtown Saint Paul, and I (ER nurse at the time) hand-ventilated a lady who needed a ventilator for two hours while the respiratory therapist called all over the Twin Cities at 3 am begging other hospitals to loan us ventilators. We were able to find one total. I think this is the best case scenario. Coronavirus is much more deadly than H1N1. Listen and stay home, wash your hands like your neurotic cousin. Assume any temp over 99.5 with even a minimal cough is corona, and don’t you dare leave.  Have an agreement with someone who will pick up your food and medications for you and you for them.


Thank you again, Kelly for taking the time to talk to us today. Stay safe and thank you for everything you do.


What Should I Do If I Have Symptoms of COVID-19?

As the global viral outbreak continues, you may be wondering what special considerations there are for people with diabetes to keep in mind. In particular, what should you do if you begin to experience symptoms consistent with the infection? This article reviews the most common COVID-19 symptoms, discusses potential issues specific to people with diabetes, and provides a guideline of how to respond if you become sick.

Symptoms of COVID-19

Be on the lookout for the following most common symptoms of COVID-19:

  • Fever
  • Coughing (especially dry)
  • Shortness of breath

Other symptoms may include fatigue, body aches, and sore throat, among others.

Special Considerations for People with Diabetes

You may have heard that people with certain medical conditions, including those with diabetes, are considered to be in the high-risk group for developing more serious symptoms of the disease, and have been reported to have a significantly higher mortality rate than those without underlying conditions. While these statistics are both relevant and can be scary, it is also important to keep in mind that your individual risk will vary widely depending on your specific health status, regardless of your diabetes diagnosis. Your age, other related and unrelated health conditions, and blood glucose management profile, all play a role in determining your overall risk. So, while as a whole population, people with diabetes are at higher risk for complications, your individual risk could be much lower than that.

For instance, as per the JDRF, those who have type 1 diabetes are  “not necessarily at higher risk of developing serious complications from the disease. Those at greatest risk are those who have another, or second chronic disease (such as a compromised immune system, heart disease or renal failure).

Talk to your healthcare provider to better understand your individual risk level and recommendations.

Have a Plan of Action If Symptoms Arise

Being adequately prepared ahead of time can help you feel calmer and more empowered if you do get sick. Consider taking the following steps today, if you haven’t already:

  • Take preventative measures. Stay home. Practice social distancing (note: if you already have symptoms, self-isolate!)
  • Wash your hands. Avoid touching your face. Disinfect “high-touch” surfaces regularly.
  • Make sure that your medication refills are up-to-date so that you have the supply you need if you will stay in your home for a long period of time (e.g., at least several weeks). Make sure that you consider supplies used for diabetes management as well as any other medications that you use.
  • Check that you have medications on hand that you would typically use to treat a viral infection, such as a fever-reducing agent, like acetaminophen (Tylenol). Consult with your healthcare provider for advice about their specific recommendations.
  • Have enough food and water in your home in case you stay home for a prolonged period of time (e.g., several weeks).
  • Review the “Sick Day Rules” for people with diabetes. COVID-19 causes mild symptoms in most of the people who are infected. This means most likely, you will be treating your symptoms at home. However, any illness can make blood glucose levels more challenging to manage. It is important to be aware of how illness can affect your management plan and make adjustments as needed, with the help of your healthcare provider, to keep yourself safe during the illness. You can find the standard “Sick Day Rules” as described by the Joslin Diabetes Center here, but discuss your specific recommendations with your healthcare provider.

So, what should you actually do (and not do) if you develop symptoms of COVID-19?

  1. Don’t panic.
  2. Self-isolate. Don’t go to urgent care or the emergency room, unless instructed to do so or you experience serious symptoms (see below). Stay home.
  3. Call your doctor and follow their advice closely.
  4. Keep a close eye on blood sugar levels. Work with your healthcare provider to make adjustments to medications, if needed, to help stay in the target glycemic range as much as possible. Keeping blood glucose levels in check as much as possible can go a long way to helping you avoid complications during any illness.
  5. Manage your specific symptoms (e.g., fever). Ask your healthcare provider for specific at-home treatment advice.
  6. Stay hydrated. This can help you keep your blood sugar levels in the target range and avoid complications.
  7. Be on the lookout for serious symptoms, including those of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA), as well as the following “COVID-19 emergency warning signs”:
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion or difficulty waking
  • Blue tint to the skin (on the lips or face, in particular)

If you experience these any of these symptoms, promptly seek medical care. Wear a mask if out in public.

  1. Continue to wash your hands and clean surfaces regularly.
  2. Continue to avoid contact with others (humans and pets).
  3. Do not discontinue isolation until you get the “all clear” from your healthcare provider.


For even more detailed information on what to do if you are ill, read these guidelines from the CDC:

What to Do if You’re Sick

Guidelines for At-Risk Populations

Also, learn even more about COVID-19 illness with diabetes from the American Diabetes Association (ADA) here.


COVID-19 Preparedness: Tips for Obtaining Extra Diabetes Supplies

As the Coronavirus (COVID-19) cases continue to grow, with many alarming reports in the news, the CDC has recently advised for at-risk populations (including those with diabetes) to prepare and to stay home as much as possible. For someone with a medical condition that often requires constant care and a supply of medicine, preparing for potential quarantine may also mean stocking up on extra medical supplies. Of course, this also means an additional financial expense, placing an additional burden on this patient population.

Here are some basic tips to consider for anyone with diabetes who is preparing get started on obtaining some extra supplies without incurring very high costs:

  • Contact your healthcare provider and ask them for samples of the medication(s) that you need.
  • Reach out to your health insurance company to determine if they will authorize a payment for an extra supply (sometimes called a “vacation” supply) of the medication(s) you need.
  • If needed, discuss with your healthcare provider any alternative medication(s) that may be cheaper than the ones you currently use, in case you decide to pay out-of-pocket for an extra supply. There are insulin preparations that can be purchased over-the-counter at a very reasonable price, but be sure to discuss the ins and outs of using these preparations with your provider, as they have different activity profiles than prescription insulin formulations.
  • See if you qualify for insulin savings through the manufacturer. Reach out to the company that makes your specific insulin(s) and/or visit their website(s) to determine which program(s) they offer and what you may be eligible for.
  • Consider purchasing the ReliOn brand of blood glucose testing supplies from Walmart, which tend to be much more affordable than if you were to pay out-of-pocket for an extra supply by another brand.
  • Look into using a service like DiaThrive or Livongo, which can allow you to obtain unlimited blood glucose testing supplies at a fixed price.
  • Consider using a mail-order pharmacy, so that you can minimize leaving your residence to obtain medical supplies.

Also, have a look at this checklist form the Diabetes Disaster Response Coalition to keep you on track as far as being prepared with diabetes essentials during an emergency situation.

Do you have any advice for people with diabetes who are trying to make sure they are prepared with enough medical supplies for an extended amount of time? Please share this article and your thoughts in the comments below.


Coronavirus & Diabetes: Your Questions Answered

The recent Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, which started in China and has been spreading across the globe, has taken the media by storm. Many have raised concerns about the inevitability of a pandemic, with many news articles addressing the issue and related concerns in recent months. Here, we provide a brief overview of COVID-19 pathogenesis and answer some common questions about how to protect yourself and what steps to take if you believe you are experiencing symptoms of the infection as a person with diabetes.

Fast Facts

  • The virus is thought to be mainly spread from person to person through respiratory droplets from coughing and sneezing, and may also live on various surfaces, that if touched, could result in infection
  • Those infected may have no symptoms at all or may exhibit varying degrees of fever, coughing, and shortness of breath
  • The best ways to protect yourself and help prevent the spread of the virus include common-sense measures, like minimizing the risk of potential exposure (e.g., limiting travel, especially to affected areas; not touching your face), and maintaining cleanliness (e.g., washing your hands)

Your Questions Answered

We recently took to social media to gain insight into common concerns and questions about Coronavirus as it relates specifically to people living with diabetes. Here, we answer some of the common questions we received:

Why are people with diabetes more vulnerable to infections and complications of infections? 

It has been shown that people with diabetes are at a higher risk for infections and related complications, and, in particular, for various bacterial infections. Although the reasons for this are not completely elucidated yet and are likely multifactorial, research has shown that high blood glucose levels can directly and negatively impact the immune system and that  

“…good control of blood sugar in diabetic patients is a desirable goal in the prevention of certain infections and to ensure maintenance of normal host defense mechanisms that determine resistance and response to infection.”

As it relates to the COVID-19 outbreak, it follows that maintaining optimal blood glucose control is an important preventative strategy for avoiding serious related complications, such as a secondary bacterial infection (i.e., pneumonia) and is likely an important determinant in the patient prognosis for anyone who becomes infected.

How might blood sugar be affected if I get the virus? 

In general, many types of illness can cause an increase in blood glucose levels (even in people without diabetes) that may necessitate medication adjustments in order to maintain control. This is often true for other viral infections, like influenza. While it is difficult to predict individual responses, as blood glucose levels are governed by a combination of many factors, it is likely that infected individuals may experience higher than expected blood sugar levels.

What can I do to protect myself? 

In addition to the importance of maintaining optimal glycemic control as a person with diabetes (see above), the best ways to protect yourself include the same common-sense measures that are advocated by the CDC.

Elizabeth Gomez, MSN, FNP-BC explains:

“Precautions to prevent Coronavirus are hand hygiene and keeping distance from people who are sick or who have recently traveled to known areas identified by the CDC as having outbreaks (i.e., China, North Korea, Japan, Italy).”

What should I do if I have symptoms?

Much like for the general population, it is recommended that people with diabetes who are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 infection take steps to get the appropriate testing and medical care, while also helping to contain spread of the disease. People with diabetes are advised to call their healthcare provider for advice promptly. It is not recommended to go to the emergency room to seek hospitalization, unless there is another emergency situation suspected, such as ketoacidosis (DKA).

Elizabeth Gomez, MSN, FNP-BC says:

“It is important they get evaluated if the history is suggestive of Corona in order to track the disease and report to the Department of Public Health. They should be evaluated by a provider if they have a positive history of travel to the affected areas and they have symptoms of fever, cough, shortness of breath or other respiratory symptoms.

Treatment is similar to supportive care but if people have comorbidities (like diabetes) they should follow up closely with the treating provider to prevent complications. The mortality rate is low, so it is expected people will recover well.”

Can the disease be transmitted via injections or fingerpricks? 

The CDC explains that COVID-19 appears to predominantly spread via respiratory droplets, but also may live on various hard surfaces. However, the virus is new, and the spread of the virus is not fully understood yet. Some concerns have been raised about other potential routes of transmission (e.g., blood).

In any case, it is good practice, in general, to never share insulin pens, syringes, or lancing devices and to always change your own syringe or pen needle when injecting insulin, as well as to change your lancet each time you check your blood sugar level.


In general, patients with diabetes are currently advised to follow the same guidelines as the general population when it comes to protecting themselves from the Coronavirus outbreak. Taking care to avoid exposure, as well as common-sense prevention, like washing your hands and not touching your face as much as possible, are key. Be sure to consult your healthcare provider for additional guidance on your specific situation in order to stay safe.


Coronavirus and Diabetes: What You Need to Know

Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past few weeks, a new and deadly virus has quickly been spreading around the world: Coronavirus, or COVID-19, is a highly infectious, acute respiratory disease that is closely related to the SARS virus. This disease only affects mammals and birds, and seems to have originated from a seafood market in the Wuhan Province of China.

The numbers are changing daily, but the most recent numbers show that over 76,000 people have been infected with the virus, with 99% of them occurring within mainland China. There are now over 2,000 reported deaths, none of which have occurred within the United States. So how dangerous is the Coronavirus, and what do you need to know as a person living with diabetes? Read more to find out:

Do Not Panic

On January 30th, the World Health Organization declared the virus a global health emergency. There are currently protocols in place to restrict passengers entering the United States from mainland China (where the outbreak is the most devastating), and passengers suspected of being contaminated with the virus are being funneled through speciality airports with temperature screenings, to make sure they’re not bringing the virus into the United States. If someone is detected at an airport with the virus, they are being quarantined until they are no longer contagious, to stop the spread of the disease.

The Virus is Mostly Mild

Many people who are infected with the virus never seek treatment, and while COVID-19 is more contagious than SARS or MERS, the Chinese CDC estimates that the fatality rate is hovering around 2.3%. According to the World Health Organization, signs of the infection include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and difficulty breathing. If you suspect you may be infected, see your doctor right away.

Protect Yourself

To protect yourself from getting any type of seasonal virus, it’s best to avoid contact with other sick people, wash your hands frequently (especially and always after using the restroom and before preparing food!), wear a protective mask when traveling through airports or busy bus/train stations, get your flu vaccination, maintain a healthy sleep schedule, and eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. According to the CDC, Coronavirus is spread by respiratory droplets in the air, when an infected person sneezes or coughs. The virus can also be spread when an uninfected person touches a surface where the virus is (bathroom countertops or door handles), and then touches their face or mouth. Carrying antibacterial hand sanitizer with you can help to eliminate this threat!

Numbers Don’t Lie

Sometimes our diabetes gives us clues when we’re starting to get sick, and one of those clues is higher-than-normal blood sugars. If you’re starting to see your numbers creep up for no reason, it could be a sign that you’re coming down with something. Check out our sick day tips to stay on top of your diabetes when you get ill.

Seek Help

If you think you’ve become infected with the Coronavirus, call your doctor immediately. Even though most cases are mild, having a chronic illness and a virus at the same time can cause major trouble. If it’s severe enough, the Coronavirus can progress, eventually causing pneumonia and even death in some cases. Let your loved ones know you’re worried, and contact emergency medical help right away if you suspect something is wrong.

Have you or a loved one been affected by the international Coronavirus outbreak? Share your experience in the comments, below.