​SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, doctors have warned that people with underlying conditions may be at a higher risk for contracting the virus.

​According to the Centers for Disease Control these comorbidities may include obesity, people who are frequent nicotine users, people with heart conditions, and diabetes, just to name a few.

Jennifer Draney and her son Spencer both have been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, while Draney has been able to dodge the virus so far – Spencer hasn’t been so lucky.

“He got in September of 2020 and he was extremely ill, the sickest I’ve ever seen him,” is a brief explanation of what Jennifer says her son dealt with.

Draney is a volunteer advocate with Utah’s chapter for Insulin For All, T1 International, she tells ABC4 that her son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes four years ago when he was 16, two years later just before her 40th birthday she was diagnosed with it. 

In a recent report, The CDC found that Persons under the age of 18 infected with covid-19 were more likely to receive a new diabetes diagnosis after 30 days after infection than were those without COVID as well as those with pre-pandemic acute respiratory infections.

For Spencer, who has already been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes – the experience of having COVID-19 was like a nightmare.

“He had terrible wheezing on albuterol, he had​ a fever of 103 at one point,” says Draney.

In Utah, doctors say they haven’t conducted any studies on how many pediatric covid cases lead to a diabetic diagnosis because there hasn’t been enough data.

Dr. Scott Clements pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Utah Health and Intermountain Primary Children’s Hospital tells ABC4 “We don’t have data on if COVID infection leads to an increase of diabetes but we know that in 2020 we had a slightly lower rate of diabetes in 2021 we had a 25% increase. Clements adds that while there seems to be an increase in pediatric diabetic diagnosis it’s unknown if they are Type 1 or Type 2 ​diabetes. 

In the case of Spencer, during his COVID infection, his mother was unable to care for him due to ​quarantine recommendations, this prompted some sleepless nights.

Draney says, “She called every 2 hours to check on his meds and I went and got him a finger pulse oximeter machine.”

Luckily, Spencer who is now 20 years old was able to fight the virus there were some very scary moments while monitoring his blood sugar readings via a glucose monitor mobile app “So if it would skyrocket which it often did I would call and wake him up” says Draney.

Since then, Spencer has gotten all three vaccination shots but with the highly contagious omicron variant his mother worries if not only he will become infected with a breakthrough case or if she’ll catch the virus.

“I’m extremely careful but what can you do,” says Draney.

In the meantime, Draney and her and her family will continue to take all of the ​necessary measures to stay clear from the virus as well as advocate for more accessible care for people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes. 

Draney says her son still suffers from lingering side effects from covid but continues to fight each and every day amid being a Type 1 diabetic.

“They say you’re lucky to meet your hero, I think I gave birth to mine,” says Draney.