Exclusive: indigenous Americans dying from Covid at twice the rate of white Americans

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  1stwarrior  •  3 weeks ago  •  7 comments

Exclusive: indigenous Americans dying from Covid at twice the rate of white Americans
One in every 475 Native Americans has died since the pandemic began: ‘Families have been decimated’

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



Covid is killing Native Americans at a faster rate than any other community in the United States, shocking new figures reveal.

American Indians and Alaskan Natives are dying at almost twice the rate of white Americans, according to analysis by APM Research Lab shared exclusively with the Guardian.

Nationwide one in every 475 Native Americans has died from Covid since the start of the pandemic, compared with one in every 825 white Americans and one in every 645 Black Americans.

The true death toll is undoubtedly significantly higher as multiple states and cities provide patchy or no data on Native Americans lost to Covid. Of those that do, communities in Mississippi, New Mexico, Arizona, Montana, Wyoming and the Dakotas have been the hardest hit.

The findings are part of the Lab’s Color of Coronavirus project, and provide the clearest evidence to date that Indian Country has suffered terribly and disproportionately during the first year of the deadly coronavirus pandemic. Native Americans have suffered 211 deaths per 100,000 people, compared with 121 white Americans per 100,000.

The losses are mounting, and the grief is accumulating.

“Everyone has been impacted. Some families have been decimated. How can we go back to normal when we’ve lost so many after so many layers of trauma? It’s unbearable,” said Amber Kanazbah Crotty, a tribal council delegate in the Navajo Nation.

On Tuesday, the former Navajo president and Arizona state representative Albert Hale died from Covid, bringing the tribe’s death toll to 1,038, the equivalent of losing one in every 160 people on the reservation.

The figures show that even though multiple more infectious variants are yet to take hold in the United States, the situation has already wrought a devastating toll on Native communities and may get worse.

Last month was the deadliest so far in the US, with 958 recorded Native deaths – a 35% increase since December, a bigger rise than for any other group. For white Americans, deaths rose by 10% over the same period.

“Not only do Native people have the highest rate of Covid deaths, the rate is accelerating and the disparities with other groups are widening. This latest data is terrible in every way for indigenous Americans,” said Andi Egbert, senior analyst at APM Research Lab.

There are 574 federally recognized American Indian tribes and Alaska Native Villages in the United States. The Navajo Nation, the second largest by population, has suffered the greatest number of deaths, but smaller tribes are facing insurmountable losses.

In Montana, the Northern Cheyenne tribe has lost about 50 people to Covid so far – which is 1% of the reservation population of 5,000 people.

“Our collective grief is unimaginable. Losing 1% of our people is the equivalent of losing 3 million Americans. Native Americans are used to dying at disproportionate rates and we’re used to scarcity but Covid is different, there’s a growing sense of hopelessness,” said Desi Rodriguez-Lonebear, an assistant professor of sociology and American Indian studies at the University of California.

Rodriguez-Lonebear added: “I fear the long-term impacts on mental health, our children, community resilience and cohesiveness. We’re in the middle of a massive storm and we’re not prepared for the aftermath.”

About a quarter of those who have died were native Cheyenne speakers. The tribal clinic is currently receiving 100 vaccine doses a week, at which rate it will take almost a year to vaccinate everyone.

“Our language, culture and traditions is what makes us Cheyenne, but we’re losing our teachers. How am I going to teach my son when I still have so much to learn? Indigenous communities are facing a cultural crisis that other communities are not.”

In Oklahoma, the Cherokee Nation, the country’s biggest tribe, has suffered a relatively low death count thanks to a well-functioning tribe-led health service and a public health system that has pushed testing, contact tracing and consistent science-led messaging from day one, according to Chief Chuck Hoskin.

“We have one of the best public health systems in the country, which allowed us to be nimble when the worst crisis in modern memory struck … We’re a society, unlike the wider US, which believes in our citizens having access to healthcare at no costs,” said Hoskin.

Still, there have been significant losses. At least 35 of the remaining 2,000 fluent Cherokee speakers have died from Covid, undermining an ambitious programme launched in 2019 to stop the language dying out.

As a result, tribal leaders decided to prioritize fluent speakers, alongside frontline workers and elders, and about half have now been vaccinated. Overall, almost one in 10 citizens on the reservation have been vaccinated.

“So far we’ve led this country in getting the vaccine out in an efficient and effective way. The only question now is whether the US can keep up with the Cherokee Nation,” Hoskin added.

Anecdotal evidence from across the country suggests that tribal vaccination programs, which can include mobile clinics, home visits and drive-throughs, appear to be running more efficiently and effectively than in many states, though shortages are widespread.

Amid growing debate and concern about vaccine hesitancy in communities of color, the Urban Indian Health Institute (UIHI) conducted the first ever national survey to better understand Native Americans’ knowledge, attitudes, and beliefs.

About 75% of participants said they would be willing to receive a Covid vaccine – compared with just 56% of the general US population according to one large survey in December 2020. The vast majority view getting the vaccine as a community responsibility, even though three-quarters have safety concerns. The survey included American Indians and Alaska Natives across 46 states – representing 318 different tribal affiliations.

“The results show the danger in grouping all people of color together when deciding on public health messaging to overcome Covid vaccine hesitancy,” said Abigail Echo-Hawk, director of the national tribal epidemiology centre based in Seattle.

The findings, published last week, have since been incorporated into a public health campaign called “Be a Good Ancestor”, focusing on community responsibility over individualism.

Joe Biden’s national Covid strategy lays out plans to bolster federal resources to speed up the vaccine rollout in Indian Country, as part of the administration’s efforts to improve equity.

Overall, there is no race data for about 42,000 of America’s Covid deaths, which means we do not know the ethnic background of one in 10 people killed by the virus so far, according to the researchers. Perhaps 700 or more Native Americans are likely to be missing from the data.

“The structural racism in the data collection systems makes us invisible by hiding deaths, which perpetuates inequalities and leads to further deaths in our communities, as this information is used to allocate resources,” said Echo-Hawk. “The maze of missing data is part of the genocide that continues to be perpetrated against our people. Their final stories are being lost.”

The data issues have not been fixed over the past year. Instead, the same gaps are now hampering our understanding about the vaccine rollout: almost half the race and ethnicity data is missing from the vaccine recipients, according to the CDC, thwarting efforts to ensure equitable access and accountability.

In states with patchy or no data, it is extremely hard to know whether states and counties allocated vaccine doses for indigenous residents are using them appropriately.

Tribal leaders and health experts agree that while the excessive death toll is shocking, it’s hardly surprising given the chronic structural, economic and health inequalities – such as overcrowded housing, understaffed hospitals, lack of running water and limited access to healthy affordable food – resulting from the US government’s failure to comply with treaty obligations promising adequate funding for basic services in exchange for vast amounts of tribal land.

After centuries of broken promises, expectations are high given that Native American voters helped Joe Biden win crucial swing states including Arizona, Wisconsin and Nevada to take the White House.

On Wednesday, Biden approved the Navajo Nation’s disaster declaration, which will result in additional federal resources for the tribe as Covid rates again climb.

But longstanding inequalities require transformational changes, and experts are calling on Biden to fully fund the Indian Health Service, for the first time in history, which would enable the yet-to-be-nominated new director to reduce chronic health disparities that have contributed to the high death toll.

“Native people showed up for Biden-Harris. Now it’s time to show up for them,” said Echo-Hawk.


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1stwarrior
Professor Expert
1  seeder  1stwarrior    3 weeks ago

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the current total population of Native Americans in the United States is 6.79 million, which is about 2.09% of the entire U.S. population.

Whites consist of 60.7%, Hispanic/Latinos consist of 18.7% and Blacks consist of 13.4% of the U.S. population.  

Let those numbers sink in.  Native Americans are losing their population at a faster and higher rate, DOUBLE that of any ethnicity in the U.S.

Kinda reminds me of the ol' Smallpox blanket thingy, eh?  Hmmmm.

Tribal leaders and health experts agree that while the excessive death toll is shocking, it’s hardly surprising given the chronic structural, economic and health inequalities – such as overcrowded housing, understaffed hospitals, lack of running water and limited access to healthy affordable food – resulting from the US government’s failure to comply with treaty obligations promising adequate funding for basic services in exchange for vast amounts of tribal land.

After centuries of broken promises, expectations are high given that Native American voters helped Joe Biden win crucial swing states including Arizona, Wisconsin and Nevada to take the White House.

On Wednesday, Biden approved the Navajo Nation’s disaster declaration, which will result in additional federal resources for the tribe as Covid rates again climb.

But longstanding inequalities require transformational changes, and experts are calling on Biden to fully fund the Indian Health Service, for the first time in history, which would enable the yet-to-be-nominated new director to reduce chronic health disparities that have contributed to the high death toll.

“Native people showed up for Biden-Harris. Now it’s time to show up for them,” said Echo-Hawk.

Yeah - let's see if that campaign promise comes to fruition - ya think?

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
1.1  Kavika   replied to  1stwarrior @1    3 weeks ago
Yeah - let's see if that campaign promise comes to fruition - ya think?

The inequities have existed for centuries, that is nothing new. Yes, Natives helped Biden win the White House in many states my home state being one of them. 

In answer to your question, I would say yes. Deb Haaland as SOI is a good start since the Interior oversees BIA, BLM, and IHS among others. In addition to Haaland, he was appointed three more natives to senior positions in the administration (Interior). Hopefully, he can push through full funding for IHS which should not be at the whims of Congress. It not surprising at all that the majority of Natives supported Biden over Trump, you should know that.

The disaster declaration by Biden will be very helpful to the Navajo.  

From a personal point of view my home rez, Red Lake was hit hard by COVID and the governor of MN sent in National Guard medics to help out with the LTCF/clinic on the Rez. This was long before the November election and it was a great help. 

It was just reported that the first Air Force active duty airman died from COVID in Italy a 15-year vet and a member of the Leach Lake Ojibwe nation. No underlying conditions and he was 36 years old. 

Curtis Jonnie known as Shingoose a trendsetter in music for decades (Canada) walked on from COVID last month.

 
 
 
shona1
Freshman Participates
2  shona1    3 weeks ago

Anoon. That is absolutely devastating news. Our Kooris live in very similar circumstances especially in WA and the NT. But far as I am aware we have not lost one Koori to covid. They shut down their own communities and no one was allowed in or out.

We are very aware if it did get into them it would decimate the community. What they have done different to what has been done over there I am not sure.

Currently the whole of Australia is virus free other than those in quarantine who have come in from overseas. They stay in quarantine for 2 weeks and are tested etc. If they refuse the test they stay in isolation for another 2 weeks.

Maybe the large distances from Koori communities to towns etc has been their saving grace. Plus closing their communities as soon as the virus reached here... may have made the difference.

Truly devastating for your people who I have the upmost respect.

Keep safe and stay well..

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
2.1  Kavika   replied to  shona1 @2    3 weeks ago
Maybe the large distances from Koori communities to towns etc has been their saving grace. Plus closing their communities as soon as the virus reached here... may have made the difference.

Probably not shona, many of our communities are very remote and most were closed to outsiders quickly. One problem in addition to the very poor health care is the fact that we had to travel into towns to get supplies, food, and the like thereby exposing us to the virus and those brought back to the community. 

The fact that Oz is covid free says it all. Yesterday the US lost 4941 souls to covid. 

 
 
 
shona1
Freshman Participates
2.1.1  shona1  replied to  Kavika @2.1    3 weeks ago

That is half the town's population where I Iive... unbelievable...

 
 
 
Kavika
Professor Principal
2.1.2  Kavika   replied to  shona1 @2.1.1    3 weeks ago

We have lost over 450,000 souls as of a couple of days ago. 

 
 
 
shona1
Freshman Participates
2.1.3  shona1  replied to  Kavika @2.1.2    3 weeks ago

Yes I saw that... staggering numbers and so much heart break for all who have lost loved ones...our toll still stands at 909...been that number for months now....still 909 souls to many...

 
 
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