COVID-19: what do we do if we have to "self-isolate"

It isn’t going to be long before one or other diabetic in the US gets into a situation where “self isolation” is required, but what does that mean and how do we deal with it?

So far I haven’t found any information about what this means in the US but the instructions from other countries imply very significant impacts on the control of our diabetes. All of them require “staying at home”. For most non-rural Americans that severely limits our ability to exercise, which, of course, is an essential part of control for both T1 and T2 diabetics.

All of the recommendations also ban going to the shops to buy food. That’s going to be OK for a few days, maybe a week, but some countries (e.g. Canada) specify 14 days. For many diabetics that means relying on someone else to buy what is, for us, a pretty simple diet but is, for most people, pretty much incomprehensible.

The advice I’ve found from other countries seem to assume that you can either get food online or that you have someone who will get it for you. I’m not sure how well the first works in the US and the second is a big assumption.

Hence this topic; diabetics in general need to have ways of dealing with self-isolation that work in the variety of conditions that we find ourselves in, both the crowded cities and the incredible isolation of rural areas.


Have several months worth of medication and supplies on hand at all times, and several months worth of food. Don’t we all do this anyway?

I mean it’s not like I have months worth of daily eating food but I have canned fish, bags of rice, a chest freezer full of all kinds of stuff, some long since forgotten…

My only real concern is if there was an electrical outage of any significant length…


This should help:


We all have glucose tablets. I wasn’t intending to talk about basic survival, as @Eric recently pointed out we all have thrice used syringes and stashed, may even frozen, insulin.

What I’m trying to point out is that, as a community, we do have genuine requirements in terms of exercise and food that will, for certain, be left out of consideration for those of us who are obliged to self isolate. The quaint idea that survivalism, or, for that matter, urban humor, is sufficient is, well, quite quaint.

We can simply be helpful to each other.

These are the current US regulations, such as they are:

So far as I can see these are not the regulations that are being enforced; those seem to me to be both arbitrary and ad hoc. The specific statement [emphasis added] which is relevant to getting food and other supplies is:

You should restrict activities outside your home,

So the CDC is saying, if you need something go get it. Unfortunately the reports coming in from the various states indicate that if you try to do this you will be taken to court [hearing in a few weeks time, etc.]

There’s also this:

However that ends with the statement, “If you don’t understand this, don’t ask us, go ask someone else.” I paraphrase, accurately.

I disabled the block quote of the CDC references I originally gave because they misled the reader to believe they were the same. This is why the links look so weird.

I have family and friends who are self-isolating due to coming into contact with people who have possible COVID-19. Our Prime Minister is even self-isolating because his wife has confirmed COVID-19. So, yeah, it can happen to anyone at any time.

It’s fairly easy to stock up on two weeks of food, even for me as someone with Type 1 and multiple food allergies. Do it a bit at a time during regular shopping trips (may be hard to do now that everyone is panicking and store shelves are often empty). I have lots of quinoa, oats, almond milk, frozen chicken, frozen salmon, tuna, apples, oranges, frozen berries, peanut butter, chocolate, crackers, sugar, and anything else I need. I also have enough diabetes supplies to get me through two weeks easily, supplies for if I get sick, and cleaning and general household supplies. (And, no, I didn’t go crazy and buy 500 rolls of toilet paper, though I did buy a few packs over several shopping trips.)

If I needed someone else to deliver groceries to me, I would either order online (I specify no substitutions for out of stock items when I do this), or I’d send a picture of the specific product I needed to the person shopping (I’ve often done this with my parents).

Exercise is more challenging, but if you don’t have home fitness equipment, it would be fairly easy to do resistance type exercises and watch some aerobic exercise videos on YouTube or other services to get your heart rate up.


I agree, exercise is important. I love outdoor running so being cooped up inside would be miserable.


Here is one option for exercise during isolation. Many people owned these at my last office job.


I think people may just have to modify the kind of exercise they do. There’s always good old 5BX, or pushups and situps on the living room floor and squats while you brush your teeth, or YouTube exercise videos. You don’t have to be outside or mingling with others to get sufficient exercise, diabetic or not.

If you’re self-monitoring, as opposed to self-isolating/quarantining, according to Canadian public health agencies you can go out if you have to to buy things – but ideally not in crowded places and not by public transit – and you can certainly go for a walk, a run, or a bike ride, ideally by yourself and keeping at least 2 metres/yards from others (I noticed in the past couple of days this has changed from 1 m/yard).

I agree rural folk can face challenges with groceries. If there’s a larger centre within driving distance, it may well have a supermarket or large grocery store that takes online or phone orders. The one an hour from where my dad lives, you can just drive up and collect your bags with minimal human interacton. In big cities food delivery services are pretty common and suddenly very popular. The website of the one I use was overloaded all day yesterday, and where I used to be able to get next-morning delivery, this morning the first delivery slots were on Wednesday. So clearly a lot of people are preferring not to spend time in supermarkets right now.

In my small condo, which skews towards single seniors, we’ve set up a buddy system if anyone is monitoring/isolating – check in by phone or email, leave groceries and supplies at the door, etc. Maybe we’ll see more community- or neighbourhood-level coordination like that, both in urban and rural settings. And that’s not a bad thing in the long run.


That is an excellent idea. There’s been a similar ad hoc system where I live for, pretty much, ever; we’re all isolated, the smallest properties are 5 acres, our road goes out regularly and a couple of the people here live alone but we know we can call one or other neighbor if we get into problems we can’t handle ourselves.


I live in a rural area and being prepared for isolation due to blizzards or big winter storms is constant about 9 months of the year. The main difference now is a major winter storm doesn’t typically last 2 weeks or more.

Self-quarantine doesn’t require preparation for no water or no power, so from that standpoint seems pretty easy. As for exercise, I’m used to listening to music and walking in the house. Or climbing the stairs to the basement.

My main concern is the prescription meds I will have to refill at some point. I have about a minimum of a 50-day supply of everything I can, but I have a couple that they won’t refill any more than 30 days at a time. I have accumulated some extras of those (which is hard to do), but not more than about 1-2 weeks. Pharmacy delivery is not an option, we live 25 miles from town. So visiting the pharmacy will be necessary at some point.

We do have a small “general” store about 4 miles away where we can get just about anything we need, they don’t have the selection a large store does, but the saying locally is, “If they don’t have it, you don’t need it.” Of course they don’t have a pharmacy.

I’m 63 with several co-morbidities, most immune related, so we are basically self-quarantining now. I feel this is smart and necessary, but my husband not so much. He’s a very social person, coffee with the guys every weekday, while I’m perfectly happy to be alone. And we’ve had several arguments already about this. Am I overreacting? I have anxiety, so the co-morbidities make me nervous. I’d just as soon try to avoid the virus. Am I being unreasonable?

P.S. We’re under a Winter Storm Warning currently (meaning it’s coming).


I’ve wondered how well these things work. I’m in a little studio apartment, so no room at all to move about for exercise. We do have a small gym and pool in our building, but if I were quarantined, I wouldn’t want to go there. Plus, I’ve wondered if this would be useful if I just want to exercise for five or ten minutes at 10:00 PM to get my blood sugar to budge in the right direction sooner if I have a high before going to bed.

Do you happen to use Save-

On? I started using Save-On’s grocery delivery earlier this year and love it. On my last order (maybe a week ago) I noticed that for the first time ever, next-day slots were all booked. I was going to make another order this weekend, but the app kept crashing, apparently due to being overloaded, so I decided not to bother and went to Costco instead.

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Grocery Gateway. They’re just Toronto area. For my dad’s groceries (he’s 250 miles away) I use a Loblaws. That particular store doesn’t deliver, but a bunch do in the Toronto area, and we’ll probably see more of that.

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I had one in my office and I liked it for rainy days when I couldn’t walk outside at lunch.


Thanks, @T1Allison! I may use this as an opportunity to pick one up.


Like @Jen, even with several food restrictions, I didn’t have much trouble preparing - my husband works as a nurse at a hospital, so the chances of us having to self-isolate due to catching coronavirus are probably higher than average. In light of that, for the past 2-3 weeks I have been adding a few extra things to my grocery lists to ensure we have enough food for a 2 week quarantine. Meat, broth, and vegetables in the freezer, rice, beans, canned salmon, nuts/nut butters, bananas, apples, oranges, milk, cereal, cream, coffee, etc. Made sure we had adequate tp, paper towels, laundry detergent, hand soap, and filled up our water jugs (we do RO water refills). I only bought what we needed + a little extra to share in our community should there be the need (I already am scheduled to prepare a couple meals for someone in our church). Health wise I refilled all prescriptions, 90 day if possible, and made sure I had adequate test strips, alcohol swabs, pain relievers/fever reducers, mucinex, and herbs and supplements (elderberry, vitamin d - I’m chronically low - vitamin c, etc). Most of this I already buy or order every month or two to keep us stocked month to month, so it wasn’t much more than I usually would be buying.

I also made sure we had plenty of construction paper, finger paint, chalk, bubbles, etc so my kids aren’t bored out of their minds, but that’s a bit off topic. :wink:


I live in a city, albeit in a house in a residential neighborhood. It’s still easy enough to go outside and go walking in nature with the requisite distance between us/our dog (who is the queen of social distancing, since she doesn’t like other dogs or people much, heh) and other people. It would be much harder if we still lived in a big apt building vs a house—in our old place, we would have had to go through elevators and higher traffic spaces and touch surfaces that would make it dicier.


I believe the thing we most need at this point is accurate advice. A lot of the stuff already posted (keep posting, please) will help people; people who get here late will probably be saying, “Dang, I wish I’d though of that a week ago.”

Nevertheless, it’s important to look at what other countries are doing because they are somewhat in advance of the US and, to some extent, CA in handling this. The BBC just published this summary for the UK:

It is UK specific, but it is written in a sort-of English and it is very detailed about what the UK government expects to happen in the near future in Britain. In due course our governments (US and CA) will issue similar advice, but for those of us at risk all the advance warning we can get is good.

One important point is from the Triggle analysis 2/3rds of the way down the article with regard to self-isolation of “those at most risk of developing severe illness”:

They believe the longest they could ask people to do this for is around 12 weeks.
That’s why it’s essential people don’t start too soon. At the moment the vulnerable groups should be protected to a degree by the fact that the small number of people with the virus should be self-isolating.


Self-isolation, does this mean someone else is bringing them food at some point, or do they have to have enough food for 12 weeks stored?

Yes, the assumption is that people can arrange for this, but bear in mind these are recommendations for people who are at risk, so they don’t have to take any notice of them.

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