COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on people living with diabetes is a growing concern.
The American Diabetes Association says nearly 40% of COVID-19 deaths have been from those with the disease, while 90% of the hospitalizations have been people with diabetes or other underlying conditions.
“Diabetes was a health crisis and epidemic in this country before the pandemic, and what the pandemic has done really is shine a very bright light on an old problem,” said Tracey Brown, CEO of the American Diabetes Association.
Brown has lived with diabetes for 16 years. She's worried about additional financial struggles brought on by the pandemic.
Even before COVID-19, one in four people were rationing their insulin to get by.
Brown says the current unemployment rate is higher among people with diabetes. So, the burden has only worsened for those that have lost health coverage because of job loss.
The disease also disproportionately impacts people of color living in low income areas.
Brown says even now in 2020, every 5 minutes, someone in the U.S. loses a limb because of complications from diabetes.
“There are so many comorbidities that go along with this, which is another reason why I talk about the fact that if we want to address the wellbeing of Americans, and improve the wellbeing of Americans, you can't have that conversation without having a conversation about improving diabetes,” said Brown.
Brown wants to make sure people with diabetes don't feel like they're alone right now.
There's a page of resources available on their website, Diabetes.org. You can also call 1-800-diabetes if you're struggling.