Cases of COVID-19 — the new coronavirus infection — continue to grow rapidly in the United States, and both the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have introduced new guidelines and recommendations, effective Monday. People with diabetes are especially affected by the new CDC recommendations.
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White House coronavirus guidelines apply to everyone, including high-risk groups
The new White House guidelines, called “The President’s Coronavirus Guidelines for America,” apply to the entire U.S. population. They include special recommendations for certain groups, including older people — generally understood to mean those over age 60 — and people with certain health conditions.
Everyone in the country is encouraged to follow directions from state and local authorities to limit the spread of COVID-19. That may include taking precautions that are stricter than those recommended for the entire country. But for at least the next 15 days, the White House guidelines state that everyone should:
• Work or take classes from home whenever possible
• Unless you’re sick, make every effort to keep working if your job involves critical infrastructure like healthcare, pharmaceuticals, or the food supply
• Avoid social gatherings of 10 or more people
• Avoid eating or drinking at restaurants, bars or food courts (drive-through, pickup and delivery are better options)
• Avoid unnecessary travel, shopping and social visits
• Don’t visit retirement homes or nursing facilities unless you are providing critical assistance
• Practice good hygiene, including washing your hands frequently (especially after touching frequently used items or surfaces), not touching your face, cleaning objects and surfaces frequently, and sneezing or coughing into a tissue, your elbow or your sleeve
The guidelines also recommend that older people and those with an underlying health condition that puts you at increased risk for severe COVID-19 — such as diabetes, heart disease or lung disease — stay home and away from other people.
If you feel sick or if anyone in your household tests positive for the new coronavirus, stay at home and contact your healthcare provider. Do not go to work or school. This recommendation applies to people of all ages, including children.
CDC issues new coronavirus guidelines for high-risk groups
According to separate CDC recommendations, older adults and those with underlying health conditions — including diabetes — should take a number of steps to reduce the risk of getting sick from COVID-19, including:
• Stock up on essential supplies
• Avoid crowds, and try to keep space between yourself and others (except members of your household, if they aren’t sick)
• Avoid all cruises and nonessential air travel
• If there is COVID-19 in your community, stay home as much as possible
The CDC recommends calling your healthcare provider to ask about getting extra prescription drug refills so that you have a supply on hand, in case you need to stay at home in the future due to an outbreak of COVID-19 in your community. This also applies to medical supplies, like blood glucose test strips. It’s important to do this before levels of COVID-19 in your community are dangerously high, if possible.
You should also stock up on over-the-counter medications and supplies (like tissues), in case you get sick and have to treat a fever or other symptoms, according to the CDC. Also make sure you have enough general household items and groceries to stay at home for a while.
If COVID-19 is already spreading in your community, you should consider finding ways to get food and other necessities without leaving your home. That may include asking family members or friends to buy or bring you items, or using commercial home-delivery services.
It’s also a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider about making a plan for your managing your diabetes, and your overall health, in case you get sick. This plan may include how you’ll keep in touch with your doctor, how you’ll check in with people about your condition in case you need further medical care, and figuring out who can care for you at home if you need this — especially if your regular or default caregiver gets sick.
Always be on the lookout for symptoms of COVID-19, such as a fever, cough or shortness of breath. If you develop these symptoms or feel sick in other ways, stay home and call your doctor.
If you’re sick, pay attention to any emergency warning signs that your illness is becoming severe, such as:
• Difficulty breathing
• Persistent pain or pressure in your chest
• Newly developed confusion or inability to wake up or get up
• Bluish-colored lips or face
If you or a loved one develops any of the above symptoms, seek emergency medical attention immediately.
Want to learn more about coronavirus? Read “Diabetes and Coronavirus: What You Need to Know,” “Preventing Coronavirus: Diabetes Questions and Answers” and “Coronavirus: Healthy Eating During Hard Times.”
(Image: II.studio / Shutterstock.com)