Misclassification raises fears of hidden health emergencies in one of the countrys most vulnerable populations
Native Americans are being left out of demographic data on the impact of the coronavirus across the US, raising fears of hidden health emergencies in one of the countrys most vulnerable populations.
A Guardian analysis found that about 80% of state health departments have released some racial demographic data, which has already revealed stark disparities in the impact of Covid-19 in black and Latinx communities. But of those states, almost half did not explicitly include Native Americans in their breakdowns and instead categorized them under the label other.
By including us in the other category it effectively eliminates us in the data, Abigail Echo-Hawk (Pawnee), director, urban Indian health board and chief research officer, Seattle Indian Health Board, told the Guardian.
In states that do categorize Native Americans in the demographic results, early data indicates dramatically disproportionate rates of infection and death. Last week, the Arizona department of health services reported that Native Americans make up 16% of the states Covid-19 related deaths, despite representing only 6% of the states population. In New Mexico, Native Americans make up less than 10% of the population but over one-third of coronavirus cases.
This week, the health authority for the Navajo Nation, which includes areas of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico, reported 1,197 positive coronavirus cases and 44 deaths. If it were a state, it would rank third in the country for confirmed cases per 100,000 population, behind only New York and New Jersey (though the nation is also testing at a far higher rate than most states).