Press release

American Diabetes Association® and Sun Life educate advocates on diabetes management during COVID-19 at virtual Call to Congress

June 1, 2020 | Arlington, Virginia

People with diabetes are three times as likely to need hospitalization if infected with COVID-19

With the diabetes community at greater risk for complications during the COVID-19 pandemic, the American Diabetes Association® (ADA) and Sun Life partnered to reinvent this year’s annual Call to Congress  to educate advocates on COVID-19 and diabetes, and how to support people with diabetes during the pandemic. Usually an in-person gathering of ADA Advocates on Capitol Hill, the recent virtual town hall event informed and engaged the diabetes advocate community about legislative goals specific to the COVID-19 pandemic, calling on Congress to implement a temporary zero-dollar copay for insulin and increase access to COVID-19 testing for underserved minority communities.

Additional key takeaways from the virtual town hall include:

  • According to a recent survey by dQ&A of about 4,800 people with diabetes, nearly 20% said they have lost their jobs since the pandemic began–resulting in loss of health care for many.
  • The survey also showed that 25% of those who lost their jobs due to COVID-19 have experienced difficulty in refilling their insulin prescriptions.
  • 30-35% of those hospitalized with COVID-19 also have diabetes; people with diabetes are three times as likely to need hospitalization if infected with COVID-19.
  • Inadequate glucose management during hospitalizations are more likely to result in worse outcomes. 
  • Stress management and mental health can impact one’s ability to maintain healthy blood glucose levels.
  • Those who still have access to their employee benefits may be able to utilize Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), which can provide various support services during a time of crisis. 

“It is important to educate and support all those at risk during this pandemic,” said Dr. Robert Eckel, president of Medicine and Science for the ADA. Dr. Eckel kicked off the town hall with guidance for diabetes care, such as when to see a doctor for COVID-19 symptoms, managing related chronic conditions like heart disease and hypertension, and the importance of bringing all medications, pumps, or glucose monitoring devices along if going to the hospital. 

“With properly managed care and knowledge, people living with diabetes can stay safe and healthy during this difficult time,” said Dr. Eckel.

“The diabetes community is quite vulnerable right now, so we are pleased to be able to bring them and their families important information and insight,” said Dr. Tracy Hamill, medical director for Sun Life U.S. In addition to discussing the importance of mental health while managing diabetes, Dr. Hamill talked about her personal experience with her son, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes a year ago. 

“I understand how trying this time can be, especially with the day-to-day management of diabetes,” said Dr. Hamill. “Whether we are isolating in quarantine, an essential worker, or on the front lines, everyone should continue to seek information and support that can help them thrive and manage their health–both physical and mental.”

“We are working hard to support people living with diabetes during the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Christel Aprigliano, vice president of Federal Relations for the ADA. “And we cannot lose momentum on the terrific work our advocates have done over the years to get meaningful legislation passed in support of those with diabetes. I look forward to the continued work we will do with Sun Life’s support, whether it’s virtually or in-person.”

Ongoing legislative priorities for Call to Congress include affordable insulin, funding for support programs, and continuation of the Special Diabetes Program, which provides funding for type 1 research at the National Institutes of Health. Sun Life U.S. is the exclusive supporter of ADA’s annual Call to Congress, as well as the ADA’s health care community webinars on COVID-19 and diabetes care. Access to this year’s virtual town hall and additional COVID-19 webinars are available here.  

Sun Life is strongly committed to the fight against diabetes. In addition to support of the ADA and other diabetes partnerships, Sun Life offers the Team Up Against Diabetes grant program, which funds grassroots organizations around the country that focus on diabetes education, management and support. Globally, Sun Life has given more than $22 million to diabetes causes. To learn more about Sun Life’s diabetes support visit

Be sure to visit the ADA’s COVID-19 hub at for all the latest information and resources. To learn more about ADA’s advocacy efforts and to become a Diabetes Advocate, visit

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About Sun Life
Sun Life is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of insurance, wealth and asset management solutions to individuals and corporate Clients. Sun Life has operations in a number of markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bermuda. As of March 31, 2020, Sun Life had total assets under management of C$1,023 billion. For more information, please visit

Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.
In the United States, Sun Life is one of the largest group benefits providers, serving more than 60,000 employers in small, medium and large workplaces across the country. Sun Life’s broad portfolio of insurance products and services in the U.S. includes disability, absence management, life, dental, vision, voluntary and medical stop-loss. Sun Life employs approximately 5,500 people in its U.S insurance and asset management businesses. Group Insurance policies are issued by Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada (Wellesley Hills, Mass.), except in New York, where policies are issued by Sun Life and Health Insurance Company (U.S.) (Lansing, Mich.). For more information, please visit

About the American Diabetes Association
Every day more than 4,000 people are newly diagnosed with diabetes in America. More than 122 million Americans have diabetes or prediabetes and are striving to manage their lives while living with the disease. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) is the nation’s leading voluntary health organization fighting to bend the curve on the diabetes epidemic and help people living with diabetes thrive. For nearly 80 years the ADA has been driving discovery and research to treat, manage and prevent diabetes, while working relentlessly for a cure. We help people with diabetes thrive by fighting for their rights and developing programs, advocacy and education designed to improve their quality of life. Diabetes has brought us together. What we do next will make us Connected for Life. To learn more or to get involved, visit us at or call 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383). Join the fight with us on Facebook (American Diabetes Association), Twitter (@AmDiabetesAssn) and Instagram (@AmDiabetesAssn).

Media contacts:
Devon Fernald
Sun Life U.S.

Daisy Diaz
American Diabetes Association