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Concerns About COVID-19 (Coronavirus)


content last updated on June 10, 2020

There are concerns about a new flu-like virus, COVID-19 or coronavirus, that is spreading rapidly around the world. Reading news updates about this virus can make you feel anxious or scared, but please keep in mind that there are things you can do to keep yourself informed, protected, and calm.

Let's walk through some of the facts about this new virus and what you can do to be safe.  This information has been gathered from the Centers for Disease Control website, which is updated regularly with the latest information about COVID-19.

What is a coronavirus?

A coronavirus is a large type of virus. Some cause cold-like illnesses in people, while others cause illness in animals such as cattle, bats, and camels. Rarely, animal viruses spread to humans, like with SARS-CoV, and it is suspected that COVID-19 originated in an animal and spread to a human.

Why is this specific virus called COVID-19?

On February 11, 2020 the World Health Organization announced an official name for the disease that is causing the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak, first identified in Wuhan China. The new name of this disease is coronavirus disease 2019, abbreviated as COVID-19. In COVID-19, ‘CO’ stands for ‘corona,’ ‘VI’ for ‘virus,’ and ‘D’ for disease. Formerly, this disease was referred to as “2019 novel coronavirus” or “2019-nCoV”.

What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath

How does COVID-19 spread?

According to the CDC, the virus is though to spread mainly from person-to-person, through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. People are thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic, but some spread might be possible before someone shows symptoms. It is also possible to become infected when a person touches a surface that has the virus on it and then touches their mouth or nose.

What can I do to protect myself and my family?

It is important to stay calm, informed, and vigilant. There are several things you can do to help protect yourself from becoming infected, and to also help stop the spread of COVID-19.  The CDC suggests:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • The CDC recommends wearing a cloth mask to cover your nose and mouth when out in public.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. (Sing the happy birthday song while you wash - that song is about 20 seconds long. Also, singing might make the process more entertaining for small kids.)
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

What about diabetes-specific concerns?

People with diabetes are at a higher risk of infection and complications from any illness, and COVID-19 is no exception.  We recommend:

  • Make sure you have a diabetes emergency kit prepared, including a 90 day supply of medications if at all possible (contact your doctor regarding prescriptions, to see if they can help you obtain a 90 day supply)
  • Review sick day rules
  • Keep low blood sugar treatment tools on hand
  • Update/obtain glucagon and ketone strips

A word in from Dr. Irl Hirsch to type 1 patients on SGLT-2 inhibitors:

“Given what we are seeing in the initial cities and their hospitals with high COVID-19 penetration, and seeing how some hospitals have to move to sub-cutaneous insulin due to the inability to do frequent finger-sticks for DKA, it seems reasonable for all type 1’s now using SGLT2 inhibitors off label to withhold them until after this crisis is over. DKA is always life-threatening if one needs a hospital admission, but now it is more of a risk. Besides not getting the best care for DKA, one has a higher risk than they would have had otherwise being admitted to the hospital. While I do believe in the right patients, the SGLT2 inhibitors have a positive risk/benefit ratio (and it doesn’t in all), during this pandemic the ratio doesn’t make sense to me and these drugs should not be used in T1D.”

What if I have additional questions that have not been addressed above?

CWD Chairman of the Board, Kenneth Moritsugu, MD, MPH, FACPM, former Surgeon General of the United States, suggests the following: "For any other questions or concerns, you should contact your personal health provider, and discuss your specific situation with him/her. Further, refer to the CDC website for up-to-date, authoritative government information regarding COVID-19.”