COVID-19 death rates higher among Native Americans: CDC

American Indian and Alaskan Native people were nearly twice as likely to die from COVID-19 compared to non-Hispanic whites, according to the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report published Dec. 11. 

The CDC evaluated data collected between July 22 and Sept. 3 from 14 states and found the age-adjusted AI/AN population's mortality rate was 1.8 times higher than whites with COVID-19. That rate translates to 55.8 deaths per 100,000 compared to 30.3 deaths per 100,000 in AI/ANs and whites, respectively.

Additionally, AI/AN people who died from COVID-19 were younger, with 35 percent of deaths occurring in people younger than 60, compared to just six percent among white people. In both groups, mortality increased with age and was higher among men. COVID-19 mortality rates among AI/AN people were 10.5, 11.6 and 8.2 times those of whites among people aged 20-29, 30-39 and 40-49, respectively. 

A total of 2,689 COVID-19 related deaths have been reported among AI/AN people as of Dec. 2 in the U.S. Previous studies indicate the AI/AN population faced similar disproportionate mortality rates during the 2009 influenza pandemic. 

"Long-standing inequities in public funding; infrastructure; and access to healthcare, education, stable housing, healthy foods and insurance coverage have contributed to health disparities that put indigenous peoples at higher risk for severe COVID-19-associated illness," the report said. 

Public health agencies should work with tribes to address these disparities and develop strategies that would improve health outcomes, the CDC said. 

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