Every flu season, Jordan Morris is extra cautious: He gets his flu shot; he washes his hands as often as he can. That's because at the age of 9, Morris was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, and those with diabetes are at elevated risk of life-threatening complications when they come down with the flu.
Diabetes is also one of the seven underlying conditions that pose greater risk for "severe illness from COVID-19," according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
"It can definitely be a little bit scary to see that [coronavirus warning]," Morris told ESPN. "I think, having diabetes, I understand that you have to take really good care of yourself in order to avoid complications in the future, so it's kind of been a similar mindset with coronavirus: you have to take really good care of yourself and follow the guidelines to avoid getting sick."
Dr. Marilyn Tan is a clinical assistant professor at Stanford and the chief of the Stanford Endocrine Clinic, with a primary clinical interest in diabetes management. She told ESPN that "being immunocompromised from diabetes is a little bit different than being immunocompromised from something such as being on chemotherapy or immunosuppressive medication from an organ transplant."
According to Tan, the greatest risk to the diabetes community is to those with poorly controlled blood sugars. "Having a lot of sugar in your blood is basically like fuel for infection," she said. Those patients are more likely to develop heart disease, high blood pressure or chronic kidney disease, "and we know that patients with preexisting heart disease right now seem to do more poorly with COVID-19."