Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

'Huge disparity' in COVID-19 death rates for Native Americans in NM


A sign with the Navajo word for "dangerous" along N.M. 12 north of Fort Defiance warns residents about COVID-19. (Jim Thompson/Albuquerque Journal)

In 2009, when the H1N1 influenza flared up in the United States, American Indians died at rates four times higher than other racial and ethnic groups.

In 2020, Native Americans across New Mexico, the majority of whom live on remote tribal lands, are dying of COVID-19 at rates 19 times that of all other populations combined, according to data provided by the state Department of Health. They account for 57% of the state's cases – despite only being 11% of the population – and have infection rates 14 times that of the rest of the population. Other states have also had disproportionately high rates of COVID in Native communities.

"Unfortunately, American Indians have the worst health status for infectious diseases," said Dr. Michael Landen, the state epidemiologist, with the New Mexico Department of Health. "I would have expected to see a higher rate among American Indians. I would not have expected to see it this much higher; this is just so disproportionate."


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