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

Native Americans Feel Devastated by the Virus Yet Overlooked in the Data


HARRAH, Wash. — As the coronavirus outbreak in Washington state’s Yakima County worsened last month, Tashina Nunez recognized more and more of the patients who arrived in her hospital. They had coughs, fevers and, in some severe cases, respiratory failure. And many of them were her acquaintances and neighbors, members of the tribes that make up the Yakama Nation.

Nunez, a nurse at a hospital in Yakima County and a Yakama Nation descendant, noticed that Native Americans, who make up about 7% of the county’s population, seemed to account for many of the hospital’s virus patients. Because the hospital does not routinely record race and ethnicity data, she said, it was hard for Nunez to know for certain.

“Not being counted is not new to us,” she said.

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