According to an article from The Guardian, Native Americans are being excluded from the population based data collected on COVID19 throughout the US. Lots of mayors and senators have already called for COVID19 exposure amongst minority data collection specifically and the fact Native Americans have not been included at all in certain areas is worrying. In cities such as New York City, New Orleans, Chicago, and Detroit the black and Latinx communities have been hit the hardest with black Americans accounting for over 50% of all COVID19 related deaths. Of all the states who released geographic data, over half of them put Native Americans under the category of “other” and did not individually categorize them.
The states that have individually categorized Native Americans have encountered the same worrying signs of a disproportionate amount of deaths amongst the Native American community. The Arizona Department of Health Services released a study showing that Native Americans make up 16% of the state’s Covid-19 related deaths, despite representing only 6% of the state’s population. In New Mexico, Native Americans make up less than 10% of the population but over one-third of coronavirus cases. According to a Huffington Post article, The Navajo Nation has reported more confirmed cases of COVID-19 per capita than almost every U.S. state, behind only New York and New Jersey.
If they had their own state they would be third in the country with a reported 1,197 positive coronavirus cases and 44 deaths. This is noteworthy because not only are there a lot of Native Americans not registered with The Navajo Nation, but Native Americans have a past of being miscategorized medically, so there is a lot of potential data not included. Health care experts warned local and state governments including Native American data, that they are most likely missing a lot of Native American COVID19 cases because of the miscategorization of Native Americans.
Not only are Native Americans constantly miscategorized at health care facilities, but even before the pandemic the federal health system serving Native Americans has been chronically underfunded. Native Americans have felt invisible in the US healthcare system for years now, so it should be no surprise a lot of their data has been dismissed or not even collected. About a quarter of Native Americans reported experiencing discrimination when going to a doctor or health clinic, according to findings of a poll by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced a bill on April 17, addressing how, “Coronavirus is hitting communities of color, people with disabilities, low-income communities, and Indian Country especially hard.” The bill will establish consultation with and for tribal governments on federal data collection and an additional $3 million for Indian Health Services. A lot of Native Americans fear it is already too late though, and when all is said and done with regarding this virus the fear is Native Americans will be horribly under represented. It is important in times like these especially, to think of those less fortunate and with less resources surrounding them and do what you can to try to help.