There is a wealth of information out there on ways to help deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, and being as informed and prepared as possible will help to relieve some of the new stresses that people across the world are now feeling. The fourth part of this series of blogs on the virus, includes some more information that you may find handy, such as your rights in the workplace, how to prevent the spread at home, your access to diabetes medications and supplies, and telehealth services as well as answers to other common questions that may arise.
What are my rights in the workplace?
Rightly so, people with diabetes are concerned about catching the virus, and the routine task of going into work each day poses new risks for these individuals. As such, it’s important for those with diabetes to know what their rights are when it comes to going to work during this crisis.
As people with underlying health conditions may have worse outcomes and serious complications after contracting the COVID-19 virus, it is crucial that those with a chronic disease like diabetes take efforts to avoid exposure to it.
In order to continue doing work, employers should put in place reasonable accommodations to reduce the risk posed to employees, including the way a job is done or changes to the work environment. Examples may include permission to use personal protective equipment such as gloves and masks, approval to work remotely or in different positions to avoid contact with others, and to allow for social distancing while at work.
The American Disabilities Act protects people with disabilities, including those with diabetes. Reasonable accommodations are required by law to help people with diabetes or other disabilities to do their job. If you feel that your typical job duties may be putting you at risk of exposure to COVID-19, you should talk to your supervisor or the Human Resources Department to explore different options to protect yourself. Note that your employer may ask for certain documentation from your doctor regarding your diabetes or need for accommodations in the workplace.
For more information on reasonable accommodations, take a look at the American Diabetes Association fact sheet on the topic. If you feel your workplace has discriminated against you, you can file a Charge of Discrimination through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Alternatively, there are other rights and benefits you may want to learn more about. Check if your state or local government has any additional laws around this, or call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800 (Diabetes) 342-2383 for more information.
What measures should be taken to prevent COVID-19 from spreading at home?
There are certain precautions that those with diabetes or other underlying health conditions and members in their household should take within the home to help reduce the likelihood of transmitting COVID-19.
Members of the household should act as though they could spread the virus at any time, even if they seem healthy. Before providing care or preparing food, family members should make sure to wash their hands properly, and surfaces and utensils should be cleaned often.
If feasible, a certain area in the home should be reserved as a protected area for the member with diabetes.
What if someone in the household has COVID-19?
If someone in your home catches the virus, they should be given their own room with the door kept shut, and ideally, a separate restroom. Personal household items the sick family member comes into contact with like dishes, utensils, and bedding should not be shared, and these items should be cleaned frequently and thoroughly. If they must be around other members (or pets) in the household, those who are sick should wear a cloth face covering to reduce the spread of the virus. One person in the household should be designated to provide care to the family member who is sick.
Do people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes have different risks?
Currently, there’s no evidence to think the virus will affect people with type 1 and type 2 diabetes differently. However, factors that may influence someone’s risk include age, how well their diabetes is controlled, and other complications. Those who also have diabetes-related health conditions have a higher risk of serious complications if they catch COVID-19, regardless of which type they have.
Will access to diabetes supplies be affected by COVID-19?
Thankfully, manufacturers of insulin and other diabetes supplies have reported that the virus is not currently impacting their production and distribution. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is continuing to assess the situation, so please refer there for any updates. Anyone struggling to pay for insulin can go to InsulinHelp.org for assistance and resources.
What should I know about telehealth?
Check with your doctor to see if any routine appointments are still going ahead. Some healthcare providers may want to postpone regular in-person appointments for the time being. As an alternative, some providers are now offering telehealth appointments using video chats or phone calls.
Virtually visiting your doctor instead of attending an in-person appointment will reduce your risk of exposure to the virus. Be aware that Medicare coverage has been expanded for telehealth services. Please refer to their coronavirus webpage for more information.
How can I get insulin without going out?
Some insurance companies are allowing people to receive insulin via deliveries straight to their home instead of going to the pharmacy. Contact your insurance company or pharmacy to find out more.
Can I refill prescriptions early?
Some states have issued waivers allowing pharmacies to refill certain prescriptions ahead of time, including insulin and other critical medications. Contact your pharmacy or health insurance company for more details on the prescription refill situation in your area.
Should you have any other questions, consult your healthcare providers and the ADA. The COVID-19 pandemic and the official guidelines and recommendations are quickly evolving, so please refer to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, American Diabetes Association, USDA Food and Drug Administration, and World Health Organization websites for the most up to date information. Take care, and we wish you all good health!
Main Photo Credit: Jennifer M. Mason/shutterstock.com; Second Photo Credit: Deliris/shutterstock.com; Third Photo Credit: Maridav/shutterstock.com; Fourth Photo Credit: Rido/shutterstock.com