The COVID-19 emergency presents significant risks for the over 5 million individuals who self-identify as American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) alone or in combination with another race. AIAN people live across the country, but are concentrated in certain states, with roughly half living in seven states (CA, OK, AZ, TX, NM, WA, and NY). Under treaties and laws, the federal government has a unique responsibility to provide health care services to AIAN people. AIAN people face disproportionate risks from the COVID-19 outbreak given significant underlying disparities in health, social, and economic factors. Addressing their needs as part of COVID-19 response efforts will be key for preventing further widening of these disparities and fulfilling the federal government’s federal trust responsibility."
Data point to stark impacts of COVID-19 for AIAN people in some states. For example, as of May 11th, AIAN people made up 18% of deaths and 11% of cases compared to 4% of the total population in Arizona, 57% of cases compared to 9% of the total population in New Mexico, and 30% of cases compared to 2% of the total population in Wyoming, and (Figure 1). As of May 10th, the Indian Health Service (IHS) reported nearly 5,500 positive cases from IHS, Tribal, and urban Indian facilities, including over 3,300 among the Navajo Nation, which spans Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah."
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