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Tour de Cure delayed

ADA provides guidance for COVID-19

The 2020 Hampton Roads Tour de Cure has been postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Hampton Roads office of the American Diabetes Association announced Friday.

The event was scheduled to be held on May 2 at the Suffolk Executive Airport.

More specific information regarding the next steps and a new event date is expected “within the coming week,” according to the announcement, as the ADA continues to monitor the spread of COVID-19, the illness caused by the novel coronavirus.

“This is not a cancellation — we are simply postponing our event as we continue to monitor the situation, and in the interest of protecting the health and safety of all our participants, employee(s), volunteers and sponsors,” the announcement states.

The ADA will continue following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the World Health Organization and other health authorities as the situation develops. For updates, visit the 2020 Hampton Roads Tour de Cure website at diabetes.org/hrtdc.

“We know that our Tour de Cure participants and volunteers are some of the most passionate, dedicated and resilient people around and we thank you for your continued support and understanding,” the announcement states.

The ADA now has a page on its website, diabetes.org, with information and resources to assist diabetics during this pandemic. People with diabetes are not more likely to get COVID-19 than the general population, but they do face a higher chance of experiencing serious complications from the virus, according to diabetes.org.

In general, people with diabetes are more likely to experience severe symptoms and complications when they’re infected with a virus. But if their diabetes is well-managed, then the risk of getting severely ill from COVID-19 is “about the same as the general population,” diabetes.org. states.

“When people with diabetes do not manage their diabetes well and experience fluctuating blood sugars, they are generally at risk for a number of diabetes-related complications,” diabetes.org states. “Having heart disease or other complications in addition to diabetes could worsen the chance of getting seriously ill from COVID-19, like other viral infections, because your body’s ability to fight off an infection is compromised.”

Dr. Robert Eckel, board president for the American Diabetes Association, also described this risk for diabetics in a Friday email.

“The body of someone with diabetes is already ‘compromised,’ in a way. It’s harder to fight off an infection when your body is battling with itself over another problem,” Dr. Eckel wrote in the email. “Your immune surveillance [the ability to fight off an infection once the patient is exposed] is compromised. Whether they’re at greater risk is still a bit of a gray area, but once the infection has set in, typically outcomes are poorer in patients with diabetes than those without.”

Eckel emphasized how important it is for diabetics to have adequate refills on all of their medications, not just insulin and other diabetes-related medications.

“I’m including high blood pressure medication and medications for lipid disorders and beyond,” he wrote. “This is an incredibly important piece of advice for people with diabetes: make sure you have enough of all your medications.”

The ADA recommends that healthy family members take precautions when caring for people with diabetes and other underlying health conditions.

Caregivers should wash their hands before feeding or caring for them, and all utensils and surfaces should be cleaned regularly. If possible, a protected space should be made available for vulnerable household members.

“If a member of your household is sick, be sure to give them their own room, if possible, and keep the door closed. Have only one family member care for them, and consider providing additional protections or more intensive care for household members over 65 years old or with underlying health conditions,” diabetes.org states.

The ADA recommends that diabetics speak to their health care teams as part of their preparations. They’re to call their doctor’s office for ketones, changes in food intake, medication adjustments and other relevant concerns.

Potential COVID-19 symptoms include fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. The ADA recommends that diabetics call their doctors if they feel like they are developing symptoms, and to prepare for those calls by having their glucose and ketone readings available and by keeping track of their fluid consumption to report to their doctors. They need to be clear with their doctors about their symptoms, and ask about how to manage their diabetes going forward.

Diabetics are encouraged to follow CDC guidance and to review how they manage their sick days, as preparing for a sick day will make it that much easier, if need be. The ADA recommends that diabetics gather:

  • Phone numbers for your doctors and health care team, your pharmacy and your insurance provider
  • List of medications and doses, including vitamins and supplements
  • Simple carbs like regular soda, honey, jam, Jell-O, hard candies or popsicles that will help your blood sugar go up when you are at risk for low blood sugars or are too ill to eat
  • Get extra refills on your prescriptions, so you don’t have to leave the house. Find out more about having your medications delivered if you can’t make it to the pharmacy.
  • Always have enough insulin for the week ahead, just in case you get sick or cannot refill, and visit insulinhelp.org if you are struggling to pay for insulin, or know someone else who is struggling to pay for insulin.
  • Extra supplies like rubbing alcohol and soap to wash your hands.
  • Glucagon and ketone strips, in case of low and high blood sugars.
  • Have enough household items and groceries on hand so that you will be prepared to stay at home for a period of time.

There are also the following everyday precautions that are recommended during this pandemic, which include avoiding contact with people who are sick, as well as these preventive actions:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, or having been in a public place. If soap and water aren’t available, then use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60 percent alcohol.
  • To the extent possible, avoid touching high-touch surfaces in public places like elevator buttons, door handles and handrails. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something, and avoid handshaking with people. Always wash your hands after touching surfaces in public places.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Clean and disinfect your home to remove germs. Practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces, such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks and cell phones.
  • Avoid crowds, especially in poorly ventilated spaces. If there are people in the crowd who are sick, then the risk of exposure to respiratory viruses like COVID-19 may increase in crowded, closed-in settings with little air circulation.
  • Avoid all non-essential travel including plane trips, and especially avoid embarking on cruise ships.

If you or anyone you know has diabetes and needs resources in light of COVID-19, visit diabetes.org/coronavirus.