As COVID-19 rampages through the U.S., this clip looks at how the rapid spread of the disease is affecting Native American communities, which have already faced disproportionate infection and death rates throughout the pandemic.
“We’re having a lot of people perish. We’re having a lot of death, a lot of hospitalizations,” says Jodi Archambault, a citizen of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and former special assistant to President Obama for Native American affairs.
Allie Young, founder of Protect the Sacred, says the Navajo Nation has “worked hard to flatten the curve” of COVID-19 infections but is still vulnerable due to lax public health measures in nearby areas. “We have to travel to these territories where they’re not wearing masks, they’re not thinking about their neighbors who’ve been impacted,” says Young.
Since the start of the pandemic, Native Americans — like Black and Latinx residents — have been disproportionately hard hit by the virus. Native people are 2.8 times more likely to be infected than whites, 5.3 times more likely to be hospitalized and 1.4 times more likely to die, according to an August report from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
As COVID-19 cases have shot up in recent weeks, the Indian Health Service federal agency reported a 25% positivity rate among Native Americans in the Great Plains, which includes the Dakotas.
“They’re afraid. Our people, they are afraid,” said Rodney Bordeaux, president of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, the second-largest tribe in South Dakota with more than 33,000 enrolled members. As of Wednesday, the tribe had confirmed more than 200 active cases and over a dozen members dead.
“It’s scary,” he added, noting that they are “losing elders,” and among those still recovering, they’ve seen breathing problems, body aches and confusion.
Updated: Dec 6, 2020
BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — Several days of falling positive tests for the coronavirus in North Dakota has dropped the state to fourth in the country for new cases per capita in the last two weeks. The state had for many weeks led the country in the number of virus outbreaks compared to population. Data compiled Saturday by Johns Hopkins University researchers lists South Dakota in the top spot. North Dakota health officials on Sunday reported 474 new cases, the lowest number in five days. A total of 82,504 people have tested positive since the start of the pandemic. The numbers follow a day when the state went over 1,000 deaths from complications due to COVID-19.