Fronteras: Diabetes, COVID-19, And Underserved Communities 'Testing Is Critical' | Texas Public Radio

Fronteras: Diabetes, COVID-19, And Underserved Communities 'Testing Is Critical'

May 8, 2020

COVID-19 has taken a toll on minority and high-risk communities, especially those with underlying medical conditions. One of those conditions is diabetes.

Tracey D. Brown, President and CEO of the American Diabetes Association, explains having diabetes doesn’t necessarily make someone more susceptible to contracting the virus, but the recovery process is a steeper uphill battle for diabetics.

Tracey D. Brown, who lives with type 2 diabetes, joined the ADA’s National Board of Directors in January 2018, before transitioning to her new role as CEO.
Credit Courtesy of the ADA

About 18.7% of African Americans have diagnosed or undiagnosed diabetes and Latinos face a more than 50% chance of developing the disease throughout their lifetime.

The higher rate of diabetes and other health complications among minorities has been in the spotlight during the COVID-19 pandemic, as it’s been reflected in the country’s death rate.

African Americans account for 14,842 of COVID-19 deaths and 8,991 Latinos have lost their lives to the virus, as of May 4. 

But neither race or diabetes are causative factors for COVID-19. Instead, Tracey Brown said there are multiple underlying factors that are disproportionately affecting the coronavirus death rate in the U.S.

Those who have been working through the pandemic on the frontlines face a higher risk of contracting the virus. Lacking a reliable internet connection also poses another barrier for those who are seeking information and resources. But above all, Brown said the pandemic has exposed a deeper disparity among the U.S. healthcare system, as the cost of life-saving medications continues to rise.

“People shouldn't have to decide whether I pay my rent, whether I put food on my table or whether I get the insulin that I need,” said Brown. “This issue has been one that the American Diabetes Association has been fighting for for quite some time.”

The ADA is continuing its fight to help people living with diabetes in next COVID-19 relief legislation. That includes advocating for the elimination of co-pays for insulin and other drugs and increasing test access in underserved communities.

For more information and resources, visit diabetes.org, or reach out to the ADA call center, 1-800-DIABETES. If you’re struggling to pay for insulin or diabetes medication, visit InsulinHelp.org.

Norma Martinez can be reached at norma@tpr.org and on Twitter @NormDog1 and Lauren Terrazas can be reached at lauren@tpr.org and on Twitter @terrazas_lauren.

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