Latino Diabetes

About COVID-19 & Latino Diabetes

Facing diabetes and COVID-19 together

COVID-19 and Diabetes in Latinos

What is COVID-19?

COVID-19 is the infection caused by a virus called coronavirus. This new virus was unknown before the outbreak began in China, in December 2019.

Do adults with diabetes face a higher risk from COVID-19?

At the moment, we do not know if there are differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes as they relate to COVID-19.

Evidence suggests that if you have diabetes, compared to people without diabetes, you have:

  • increased risk of infection in general, this will probably be the same for COVID-19;
  • difficulty controlling diabetes when you have an infection; and
  • higher risk of complications from the infection, especially if you are older or have diabetes-related complications or other medical problems.

Therefore, if you have diabetes, it is important to try to prevent COVID-19 infection from occurring. Good control of diabetes makes sense.

Should I worry about COVID-19?

For most people, COVID-19 infection is mild, especially for children and young adults, and most people recover completely without needing special treatment. However, COVID-19 can cause serious illness in some people including family or friends. It is therefore quite normal for you to worry about how the COVID-19 outbreak will affect us and our loved ones.

How does COVID-19 spread?

People can catch COVID-19 from others who have the virus. It is spread when a person with COVID-19 coughs, releasing droplets containing the virus into the air (these droplets can travel up to 6 feet) which land on surfaces (door handles, phones, food, anything). If you touch these surfaces and then touch your eyes, nose, or mouth, the infection enters their body. Your risk of COVID-19 increases if there are people near you who are sick. Some people with the virus may have no symptoms so it is important for all of us to wash our hands and stay over 6 feet away from others when possible.


What are the symptoms of COVID-19 in people with diabetes?



The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are the same in people with and without diabetes: fever, cough, and difficulty breathing. Some people may also have diarrhea, nausea and vomiting before the respiratory symptoms start.


These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people get the infection without feeling sick and without these symptoms. Additionally, people with diabetes may see their glucose levels rise during illness even if they are not eating.


However for a small number of people COVID-19 can become serious, with difficulty breathing, pain in the chest, confusion, or bluish lips or face. If these or other worrying symptoms occur, seek medical attention as soon as possible.


How long after catching COVID-19 do symptoms start?


At the moment, we think the time between catching the virus and when symptoms start (called the “incubation period”) is between 1 and 14 days, most commonly around 5 days.


COVID-19/ Coronavirus is a new and serious threat to everyone, but especially Hispanic/Latino people with diabetes if their blood sugars are high.

Fortunately, all of us can take simple steps to reduce our risk of catching COVID-19 and, if someone with diabetes develops COVID-19, there are important, practical steps to take immediately, as the virus can make diabetes more difficult to control.

Latino diabetes helpline

We are here to help

If you have a general comment or question related to diabetes and/or COVID-19, please call our helpline: 805-350-8730. The helpline does not provide personal medical advice. If you need medical assistance, please call your doctor or 911 in the case of an emergency. We will do our best to return your call within 24 hours, including weekends. Please also check each day for updates. Stay safe and well.



Global Cases Confirmed
97,716 Deaths

United States Cases Confirmed
17,055 Deaths

California Cases Confirmed
559 Deaths

Santa Barbara County Cases
2 Deaths

Updated April 10, 2020
8:30 AM PST


Rules for returning to work

The CDC says that critical workers can now return to work even if they have been exposed to COVID-19, provided they have no symptoms. Workers must have their temperature taken before starting, wear a mask, and practice social distancing.

Exposure means being within 6 feet of someone with confirmed or suspected COVID-19. This includes the 48 hours before that person has symptoms.

The world is quieter

In normal times the world is noisy. Scientists who listen for earthquakes, hurricanes and other natural events are reporting how quiet the world has become due to COVID-19. “The roar of human life is merely a whisper at the moment,” said one expert. Noise is a form of pollution and can cause stress so perhaps when normality returns, the earth will be a little quieter?

COVID-19 APP Available

There is an app (in English only at the moment) that provides advice about COVID-19 including if you are at risk and what you should do. You can find it here:


When will the country re-open?

We don’t know. Experts say it likely won’t open all at once. 4 key signs that indicate that cities and states may be ready to re-open are:

Hospitals can safely treat all patients who need care.
At least everyone with symptoms can be tested.
All confirmed cases and their contacts can be monitored.
The number of cases fall for at least 14 days.

Puzzles to pass the time

As millions of people worldwide are confined to home, the question is how to kill time? Well, demand for jigsaw puzzles has surged past holiday levels. People proudly post completed puzzles on social media.

Loneliness and COVID-19

With physical distancing, more people report loneliness and social isolation. Pre-COVID-19, 1 in 5 people felt lonely and isolated, which can seriously impact mental and physical health. COVID makes this a bigger challenge.
To combat this, call family and friends; use social media and the Internet; check in with neighbors (stay 6 feet apart and wear a face covering); smile, wave, and say hi. Volunteering can help, too.

COVID-19: Protect Yourself

How can I protect myself from catching COVID-19?

The same steps help protect everyone from catching COVID-19, irrespective if you have diabetes or not. If you live with diabetes, you may have learned to be extra aware of how you feel; this can be very helpful as you follow these steps to protect yourself.

Check this website every day. New information will be posted as the situation changes and we learn more. Encourage others to take these same steps. If there are children in your house, do your best to teach them to do the same.

  • IMPORTANT: The COVID-19 virus hates soap and water. Wash your hands with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand rub (with at least 60% alcohol – vodka or tequila do not work!) many times every day and especially after coming home, touching an area that other people touch often (such as a door or shopping cart handle), blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, or going to the bathroom; and before eating or preparing food. To be sure you wash long enough, sing “Happy Birthday” twice or “Los Pollitos.”
  • When coughing or sneezing, cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or a tissue. Then immediately throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands.
  • Stay as far away as possible (at least 6 feet) from anyone outside of your household- this is called “social distancing.”
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth. This is harder than it might seem.
  • Avoid touching surfaces in public places – door handles, handrails, elevator buttons, etc. Use a tissue or your sleeve to cover your hand or finger if you must touch something. Wash your hands after touching surfaces in public places.
  • Clean and disinfect your home daily to remove germs on frequently touched surfaces such as cell phones, doorknobs, light switches, handles, tables, desks, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • Make sure you have good airflow in your home (for example, open a window or turn on the air conditioner).
  • Stay home as much as possible. Reschedule non-urgent medical appointments. Alternatively, use telehealth or in-home care.
  • Self-isolate by staying at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and low fever (100° F or above).
  • Watch for symptoms and emergency warning signs. If you develop fever, cough, and difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in your chest, bluish lips or face, seek medical advice as quickly as possible. Call the clinic or hospital before going there. If you have an emergency and need immediate medical care, call 9-1-1.
  • Identify family, friends, neighbors, and caregivers who can provide support and care if you or your caregiver get sick. Tell those around you what medications, food, medical supplies, and assistance you may need for your normal diabetes care and/or for illness due to COVID-19. Be sure that people who come to your home have no fever, cough, or other respiratory symptoms. Maintain social distance at all times with them.
  • Create a plan of action in case of illness in the household due to COVID-19:
    • Consider a 2-week supply of prescription and over-the-counter medications, food and other essentials. Know how to get food delivered if possible.
    • Establish ways to communicate with others (e.g., family, friends, co-workers) using your phone or computer.
    • Make back-up plans for work, childcare, and eldercare.

COVID-19: Social Distancing

What is social distancing?

Social distancing means reducing your in-person, face-to-face interaction with other people, and increasing the space between yourself and others. Social distancing helps everyone – whether you live with diabetes or not – lower the risk of catching COVID-19.

To do this:

  • Avoid handshaking, hugging or other intimate types of greetings. Greet others with a wave, nod or bow instead.
  • Avoid any contact with someone who looks as if they have symptoms of COVID-19. These include high temperature and/or new and continuous cough.
  • Avoid public transportation unless it is absolutely necessary, varying your travel times to avoid rush hour. Work from home when possible.
  • Large gatherings and gatherings in smaller public spaces such as bars, cinemas, restaurants, theatres, and clubs are now banned.
  • Avoid gatherings with friends and family BUT stay in contact by phone, email, internet, and social media (Skype, FaceTime, Facebook). Social distancing is not psychological distancing.


  • Avoid handshaking, hugging
  • Avoid people with cough, fever
  • Avoid public transportation
  • Avoid large gatherings
  • Keep 6 feet of space in public


Scam Alerts

Scams and fraudulent services have increased since the COVID-19 pandemic caused local residents to self-isolate. On top of the usual scams, in Florida scammers are approaching people’s homes in white lab coats pretending to be from the local health department.

We have some tips:

• Hang up on robocalls. Scammers are using illegal robocalls to pitch everything from scam treatments to work-at-home schemes.
• Ignore online offers for vaccinations and miracle cures. There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure COVID-19 — online or in stores.
• Know who you’re buying from. Online sellers may claim to have in-demand products, like cleaning, household, and health and medical supplies when, in fact, they don’t.
• Don’t respond to texts about checks from the government. Anyone who tells you they can get you the money now is a scammer.
• Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know. They could download viruses onto your computer or device.
• Watch for emails claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or experts saying they have information about the virus.

COVID-19: Strategies for Coping

As an adult with diabetes, how can I best manage stress caused by the COVID-19 epidemic?

COVID-19 will increase stress, fear, and anxiety for everyone. Stress during this outbreak may especially impact people living with diabetes, and may include:

  • Unpredictable glucose levels.
  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones.
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
  • Worsening of chronic health problems.
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.

Things you can do to help yourself include:

  • Share the facts about COVID-19 and the actual risk to yourself and people you care about. When you share accurate information about COVID-19, you can help make people feel less stressed.
  • Become educated about COVID-19, for instance by reading this website, but also take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about COVID-19 repeatedly can be upsetting.
  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid excess alcohol and drugs.
  • Make time to unwind. Try to do some other activities you enjoy.
  • Continue your outdoor activities such as walks, runs and yard work, to the extent your health allows it and with social distancing.
  • Listen to music that you enjoy.
  • Ask friends, family, neighbors, and other networks for help with essential grocery shopping, picking up medications, etc.
  • Children and teens react, in part, to what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they can provide the best support for their children. Parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles can be more reassuring to others around them, especially children, if they are better prepared.
  • Call your healthcare provider if stress gets in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row.

As an adult living with diabetes, what supplies should I have on hand in case I get COVID-19?

  • Medication. Contact your healthcare provider to ask about obtaining extra necessary medication to have on hand. If you cannot get extra medication, consider using mail-order for medication.
  • Over-the-counter medicines and medical supplies (tissues, etc.) to treat fever and other symptoms.
  • Diabetes-related testing supplies and refills.
  • Drinking water.
  • Household items and groceries on hand so that you will be prepared to stay at home for a period of time.
  • Food and beverages, including sugar-free fluids, sugar-containing fluids, and non-perishable (canned) foods.
  • Use mail order if possible to obtain supplies.

COVID-19: Prevention & Treatment

Should people with diabetes wear a mask?

Wearing a scarf, mask or other face covering makes sense when you go shopping or where there may be other people nearby.  Definitely ear a mask if you are ill with COVID-19 symptoms (especially coughing) or caring for someone who may have COVID-19. Then clean your hands right away. Disposable face masks can only be used once.

Are antibiotics effective in preventing or treating COVID-19?

No. Antibiotics do not work against viruses; they only work on bacteria, which COVID-19 is not. Antibiotics will be used to treat infections caused by a bacteria, such as pneumonia.

Are there any medicines or vaccines that can prevent or cure COVID-19?

Not yet but scientists around the world are working on this.

Can I catch COVID-19 from my pet?

To date, there is no evidence that a dog, cat or any pet can transmit COVID-19. If you have COVID-19 symptoms, avoid touching your pets.

How long does the virus survive on surfaces?

It is not certain how long the virus survives on surfaces, but it may persist for a few hours or up to several days. If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.

I live with diabetes and I feel sick. What should I do?

If you get sick – even if you are not sure if it is COVID-19 – follow the steps in the table below, even if your blood sugar is OK.


    Financial relief for some insulin users

    Eli Lilly launched a program allowing people without health insurance and people with commercial health insurance to fill their monthly prescription of Lilly insulin for $35/month. The program is NOT available to patients with any government insurance including Medicaid or Medicare.


    COVID-19 and pregnancy

    Are pregnant women at higher risk of getting COVID-19 and, if they become infected, will they become more sick than other people?

    We do not currently know if pregnant women have a greater chance of getting sick from the virus than the general public nor whether they are more likely to have serious illness as a result. So at the moment we can say no to both questions but we will keep this under review.

    How can pregnant women protect themselves from getting COVID-19?

    Pregnant women should do the same things as the general public to avoid infection:

    • Cover your cough (using your elbow is a good technique)
    • Avoid people who are sick
    • Clean your hands often using soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer

    What about during delivery?

    We still do not know if a pregnant woman with COVID-19 can pass the virus to her baby during pregnancy or delivery. No infants born to mothers with COVID-19 have tested positive for COVID-19 and the virus was not found in samples of amniotic fluid or breastmilk.

    COVID-19: Advice for Managing Diabetes During Illness

    General advice for keeping your diabetes under control if you are sick

    S (Sugar)



    Blood glucose levels can rise during illness even if you are not eating.

    Monitor your blood glucose more often if possible.

    You may need to temporarily increase your diabetes medications while you are sick to manage higher glucose levels. Talk to your doctor.

    I (Insulin)

    NEVER stop insulin or oral diabetes medications.

    You may need to increase your insulin dose during illness, especially if ketones are present.

    Get specific advice from your doctor.  

    C (Carbohydrate)

    Stay hydrated and continue to eat carbohydrates.

    If you cannot eat or are vomiting, replace meals with sugary fluids.

    If your blood glucose levels are high, keep drinking sugar-free fluids.

    If your blood glucose levels are low, keep drinking sugary fluids.

    K (Ketones)

    If you have type 1 diabetes, check for ketones every 2-4 hours.

    If ketones are present, you may need to take extra rapid-acting doses (in addition to regular does) based on total daily insulin dose.

    Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated and flush through ketones.

    Table source: Down S on behalf of the Primary Care Diabetes Society (2020) COVID-19 and diabetes. Diabetes & Primary Care [early view publication].

    What to do if you are worried about controlling your diabetes

    Call your doctor or go to an emergency room if any of the following occurs:

    • You have moderate to high ketone levels in your urine.
    • You cannot keep any liquids down for more than 4 hours.
    • Your blood sugar keeps going low (hypoglycemia) or remains over 250 on 2 checks.
    • You feel too sick to eat normally and are unable to keep down food, for over 24 hours.
    • You have vomiting and/or severe diarrhea for over 6 hours.
    • Your temperature is over 100◦ F.
    • You are having trouble breathing.
    • You feel sleepy or cannot think clearly. If so, have someone else call your doctor or take you to the emergency room.
    • If in doubt, seek help.

    Call ahead before you go to a doctor’s office or emergency room. Tell them you have diabetes and about your symptoms, and whether you have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19 or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.

    What should I do if I feel sick but I cannot reach my regular doctor?

    Call the nearest Emergency Room for advice.

    What should I do if I need insulin but COVID-19 has overwhelmed healthcare providers?

    If an epidemic does occur and healthcare providers are overwhelmed, people needing insulin can obtain vials of NPH and regular insulin from Walmart without a prescription.

    COVID-19: Testing Information

    Should I be tested for COVID-19?

    You need to consider 3 questions:

    • Do you have a fever of 100 or greater?
    • Do you have a new cough?
    • Do you have shortness of breath or pain taking a breath?

    If you answer no to all 3 questions, you do not need a test. If you answer yes to any of the questions, contact your healthcare provider and let them know you may need a test. You may be asked additional questions about your age, recent travel, contact with someone who has the virus, your diabetes and other medical problems, and whether you work at a healthcare or residential care facility. If you are tested, the results may not be available for a few days. While you wait for the result, stay in isolation at home. This means you should not go to school, work, shopping, or to any restaurant. Try to maintain a distance of 6feet, when possible, from other people at home and do not eat in common areas. You can go outside if you are not coughing and have a private backyard, or private outdoor area that is at least 6 feet from other residents. Wear a mask.

    If I get COVID-19, can I recover at home?

    Staying at home makes sense if you have the infection and:

    • Your health is stable enough to receive care at home. This includes being able to control your diabetes.
    • Appropriate caregivers are available at home.
    • Ideally there is a separate bedroom where you can recover without sharing immediate space with others.
    • Food and other necessities are available.
    • You and other household members have access to appropriate, recommended personal protective equipment (such as gloves and facemasks) and are capable of adhering to precautions, such as cough etiquette and hand washing.
    • You can stay away as much as possible from household members who may be at increased risk of complications from COVID-19, such as older people and people with severe chronic health conditions like heart disease, lung disease, and diabetes.


    To wear a mask or not?

    It is now recommended that you wear a cloth face mask in public places where social distancing is difficult like grocery stores and pharmacies, as people with no COVID-19 symptoms can infect others. Face masks are preferred over respirators and surgical masks, needed by healthcare personnel. Masks do not replace social distancing. The CDC provides instructions for making, using, and cleaning homemade masks.


    Allergies and COVID-19

    Spring blooms are exploding across California, raising pollen counts. This will complicate making a diagnosis of COVID-19. Tips: COVID-19 cough is dry and non-productive (that means little or no spit), and COVID-19 usually pushes fevers over 100F. In contrast, allergy coughs tend to have more spit, and no fever.

    COVID-19: Separating Facts from Fiction

    Busting myths about COVID-19

    There is a lot of information on the internet, but not all of it is reliable. Be careful with what you read. Here we correct some common myths.

    • COVID-10 can make anyone sick, regardless of your race or ethnicity. Fear and anxiety about COVID-19 can cause people to avoid or reject others even though they are not at more risk for spreading the virus.
    • Currently there is no evidence that food can transmit COVID-19. In general, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at room temperature, refrigerated, or frozen.
    • There is no reason to believe that cold weather can kill the virus.
    • Taking a hot bath does not prevent infection with COVID-19.
    • Hand dryers are not good at killing COVID-19. To protect yourself against the new coronavirus, frequently wash your hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub.
    • Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to your eyes and mouth, as well as your clothing.
    • Vaccines against pneumonia (such as pneumococcal vaccine and Hib vaccine) do not provide protection against COVID-19.
    • There is no evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the new virus.