Covid-19 incidence more than triple among Native Americans, new CDC report says

The coronavirus pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on Native American communities. The incidence of Covid-19 cases among American Indians and Alaska...

Posted: Aug 21, 2020 12:39 PM

The coronavirus pandemic has had a disproportionate impact on Native American communities. The incidence of Covid-19 cases among American Indians and Alaska Natives was 3.5 times that among White people, according to a new report from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC-led team also found that cases among American Indians and Alaska Natives tended to be younger in age.

The report included data on 340,059 Covid-19 cases confirmed between January 22 and July 3 from across 23 states. The researchers -- from the CDC and other institutions across the United States -- took a close look at race and ethnicity information for those cases.

Among American Indians and Alaska Natives there were 594 Covid cases per 100,000 people. That compares to, among White people, just 169 cases per 100,000, the team reported on Wednesday.

Data were limited to cases that included race and ethnicity information. The study also only compared coronavirus rates among American Indians and Alaska Natives to White people and not to other groups, as the pandemic also has hit Black and Hispanic communities at disproportionate rates.

The CDC said Wednesday that it has provided more than $200 million in Covid-19 funding to American Indian and Alaska Native communities to support pandemic preparedness and responsive efforts, such as surveillance, laboratory capacity and infection control.

"American Indian and Alaska Native people have suffered a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 illness during the pandemic," CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield said in a news release. "This funding approach will broaden access to COVID-19 resources across tribal communities."

In May, Dr. Thomas Dean Sequist, a member of the Taos Pueblo tribe of New Mexico, told the House Ways and Means Committee that many issues are exacerbated during the Covid-19 pandemic among Native American families across the United States.

"What I've observed with the Navajo Nation is the shortage of testing there, and the lack of personal protective equipment there," he said during a hearing on the Disproportionate Impact of Covid-19 on Communities of Color.

Covid is impacting social issues as well, he said, and families have been hit hard by the pandemic across many generations.

"There are entire families that have either been infected with it, or have had multiple deaths in the family, all at once. And that is going to create a trauma that's going to be long lasting and a need for mental health services," he said.

"We cannot flip back into complacency," Sequist said, adding the circumstances that created the crisis "existed long before Covid, and will persist long after unless we take decisive action starting today."

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