It’s Indigenous Peoples’ Day. How are Native Americans doing during COVID-19?

Social and Racial Justice

A: Thank you for drawing attention to this important topic. By now, you’ve probably heard that racial and ethnic minorities are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. Unfortunately, Native American populations are not an exception.

** Native Americans are more than 5 times as likely to be hospitalized than non-Hispanic white Americans. This is a larger COVID-19 disparity than for any other racial/ethnic group.

** While data are limited due to incomplete reporting, 5 states (New Mexico, Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, and Oregon) indicate that Native Americans are four times as likely to test positive for COVID-19 compared to non-Hispanic whites.

** Preexisting health conditions (e.g., heart disease, diabetes, obesity), poverty (including limited electricity and running water), and living in multigenerational households increase the vulnerability and risk of adverse outcomes.

** The Indian Health Service is underfunded, with limited staff and space, and not able to adequately provide for their patients in need.

Today we honor and celebrate the cultures of indigenous peoples. Please make time to talk with your friends and family about Native history, structural inequalities, and ways that we can do better for Native populations, especially during this pandemic.

Here are some specific ideas provided by the Smithsonian Magazine:

** Plant Native

** Read a Native author

** Attend an online Indigenous Peoples’ Day Celebration

** Teach our children about Native American history

** Advocate for Indigenous Peoples’ Day

Additional readings:

Smithsonian Magazine

U.S. News and World Reports

Centers for Disease Control

Infection Control Today

Washington Post

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