The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently found chronic health problems like obesity, type 2 diabetes, kidney and heart disease are more prevalent among COVID-19 patients sick enough to be hospitalized.
North Texas parents whose children have the more rare type 1 diabetes are still expressing concern about what complications the virus could bring, especially as they consider whether to send their kids back to school.
In addition to her daily blood sugar level tests, 12-year-old Gracie Kendzierski said she’s been extra vigilant trying not to contract Coronavirus.
“Life has definitely changed since COVID,” she said. “We are staying in as much as we can.”
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Especially because she has type 1 diabetes.
“My pancreas just doesn’t work like most peoples,” she said.
Kendzierski is a youth ambassador for the American Diabetes Association.
The ADA North Texas office said it has not yet received data detailing what type of diabetes patients who have died or been hospitalized in Dallas County have, but believes the majority have the much more prevalent type 2 diabetes, which can be driven by obesity, inactivity and diet.
Gracie’s mom is still concerned.
“I know families who have type 1 kids who did get COVID and they said it was terrible,” said Pamela Kendzierski. “They’re okay now and they got past it but it was really bad for them. So it’s just one of those things that we just want to make sure just in case.”
The ADA North Texas office said it’s not that those with diabetes are not more predisposed to the virus, but they can suffer complications because of it.
And that’s leading to a warning for parents about the new school year.
“Unfortunately, we cannot force the schools to stay closed,” said Ruby Camarillo of the American Diabetes Association. “We cannot make that decision for them. We just want the families to be very informed.”
The ADA urges parents to talk to their child’s school about their 504 status.
“All children with diabetes are protected under federal and state law for legal rights,” said Caramillo. “Those do not go away with the global pandemic.”
Caramillo advises parents to have a written agreement with their child’s school requesting safety measures that masks be worn and a six-foot distance be maintained, but also more specific rules including asking that your child be kept with the same, small group of students for the duration of the school day and to ensure trips to the nurse for insulin needs are safe.
“Include something where the nurse has a separate area for “well children” and a separate area for children who are feeling ill.”
The goal is to limit children with diabetes’ exposure to the illness.
Gracie and her parents have opted to stick with virtual learning where she’s excelled for 7th grade.
“I just feel like for me I’d be really nervous and anxious at school because I know they’re trying their best but it’s probably not going to be 100% enforcing the rules all the time,” said Gracie.
The latest numbers out of Dallas County show 55% of all patients hospitalized with COVID-19 have at least one high-risk condition. The most common conditions are diabetes (30%), obesity (16%) and heart disease (13%), according to Dallas mayor Eric Johnson.
*Map locations are approximate, central locations for the city and are not meant to indicate where actual infected people live.
**County totals below include all 32 North Texas counties, not just Collin, Dallas, Denton and Tarrant.