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It’s Time to Double Down on Social Distancing and Face Masks

By Monica Oxenreiter, Lorena Bergstrom, and Eliza Skoler

As the pandemic continues, it is more important than ever to continue following CDC recommendations for prevention – especially for people with diabetes

For most of us, COVID-19 has completely changed the way we work, play, and interact with others. From the time that WHO declared a global pandemic on March 11th, the world has approached responding to the pandemic in different ways, though social distancing and wearing masks in public seem to be common methods from regions that have been hit particularly hard.

diaTribe wanted to take this opportunity to remind readers that social distancing and face masks remain particularly important at this time (and especially if you live in a hot-spot). This is especially true since people with diabetes are still considered higher risk for complications from COVID-19. Although researchers are not sure what risk factors may exist for people with diabetes, they do know that diabetes can be a risk factor for more serious experiences with the new disease. Click here for diaTribe's infographic on diabetes and COVID-19.

While there is not clear agreement yet about who with diabetes is at highest risk – particularly if you are over the age of 50 or have additional health complications (including overweight, obesity, heart disease, or kidney disease) – we urge urge you to continue following CDC guidelines. These include social distancing, wearing a mask when outside or in public spaces, and making sure your mask does its job effectively. These are particularly important guidelines as the US and other countries begin to lift restrictions.

Despite these suggestions for public health, we hear many reports that this isn’t being followed. However, 20 out of 50 states in the US had their highest rates of new cases yesterday, and many countries are experiencing their worst days yet. 

As information is evolving, we must continue to use CDC-recommended precautions when going out and about. The most important things to do – besides prioritizing prevention through masks and social distancing – is to keep track of any symptoms, stay hydrated, watch your blood sugars carefully (at all times, and especially if you think you have an infection), and be sure to continue all your medication. 

As a diabetes community, we want to take these tips very seriously. With COVID-19 cases rising globally (we are quickly approaching 10 million infections), please follow CDC’s updated guidelines for prevention:

  • Wear a mask or face covering when going out in public – make sure your mask covers your nose and mouth securely and fits snugly. Read about how to effectively wear your mask to protect yourself and others from the New York Times, and read about how to clean and re-use your mask. Learn about the importance of better masks – and what it would take to produce them – from the Harvard Business Review.

  • Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.

  • Consider using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.

  • Stay at least six feet away from other people.

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

  • Cover coughs and sneezes.

  • Monitor your health and be alert for symptoms (including fever and shortness of breath).

As the cases continue to increase, we want to make sure that everyone stays as safe as possible – wear a mask, avoid seeing other people, and take care. We know many diaTribe readers have loved ones that have experienced serious illness and death stemming from COVID-19, and we send all our best thoughts to you.

Click here to read more diaTribe articles on COVID-19.

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