Concerns About COVID-19 (Coronavirus)


content last updated on May 11, 2021

COVID-19 vaccines are now available. For information on vaccines, please visit the CDC website.

Let's walk through some of the facts about COVID-19 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 or chills
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Headache
  • New loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Congestion or runny nose
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Diarrhea
Look for emergency warning signs for COVID-19. If someone is showing any of these signs, seek emergency medical care immediately:
  • Trouble breathing
  • Persistent pain or pressure in the chest
  • New confusion
  • Inability to wake or stay awake
  • Bluish lips or face

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.
  • CDC recommends that people wear masks in public settings, at events and gatherings, and anywhere they will be around other people. Effective February 2, 2021, masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • 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.”

What about mental health concerns?

Mental health problems can become more problematic during times like these. Here are ways to cope with pandemic-related stress and to help alleviate some overwhelming feelings:

  • Take time to think about how you're feeling and to hit "pause" on stressors as much as possible.
  • Pause on consuming upsetting content, including "doom scrolling" through the news and through opinion pieces. It's okay to take breaks from the news.
  • Take care of your body by exercising, meditating, eating well, being social within your comfort zone.
  • Reach out and stay connected to friends and family.
  • Seek help if overwhelmed or unsafe.