NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — If you're one of the millions of Americans that have diabetes, experts believe you could have a tougher fight against COVID-19.
Doctors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are warning that having diabetes increases your risk of severe illness from COVID-19.
"Respiratory issues, obviously we know that’s the largest one. But we’re also seeing blood clots and other types of clotting issues like that," said Justin Kirby, chairman of the Middle Tennessee Diabetes Coalition.
Kirby said the best way to stay safe is to be cautious.
"We would say for people to actually try to stay at home as much as you possibly can. If you absolutely must go out, certainly have a mask on," he said.
Thirteen percent of all Tennesseans are diagnosed with diabetes, but the total number is likely higher. A recent study from the Tennessee Department of Health estimates another quarter of a million Tennesseans are likely living with undiagnosed diabetes.
"Nine out of the 10 people that actually have prediabetes are not aware that they have it," said Kirby.
You can screen yourself for prediabetes risk by visiting the CDC's website.
Kirby said they have several programs for anyone who may need help controlling their diabetes.
"Many of our programs are offering virtual services now so if you’re not comfortable coming in, I know a lot of people aren’t, you’re able to connect with them and get enrolled in the program," said Kirby.
For more Tennessee diabetes resources, click here.