Native tribes may suffer for decades once COVID-19 outbreak ends 2023


Since its declaration three years ago, the COVID-19 epidemic has affected Native American communities severely.

Indigenous people are 2.5 times more likely to be hospitalized and 2 times more likely to die, according to CDC data. Native life expectancy dropped 6.5 years in the first two epidemic years.

“Communities are going to be continuing to grapple with the consequences of this for decades and even generations to come,” said Dr. Laura Hammitt, an epidemiologist with the Johns Hopkins Center for Indigenous Health who led the Navajo Nation’s COVID testing coordinating team.

She stated high prevalence of disorders that increase COVID infection risk have contributed to the unfortunate inequities. She also noted systematic racism in healthcare quality.

“Within the Indian Health Service and tribal health organizations, those providers and clinic teams are incredibly dedicated and have done everything they can to take care of people in their communities who are coming in sick,” she added. The clinics are understaffed and underfunded. For decades.”

Hammitt says tribal health care providers have been preparing for the conclusion of the public health emergency, and she hopes there will be enough funds for free COVID immunizations and testing.

She also suggested state and federal funding for education, housing, water, and other essential services to reduce health disparities.

“These hardest-hit communities really deserve an equitable shot at recovery,” she continued. “And that is going to require continued investment in ensuring not only that we address these root causes of health disparities, but also that there are resources to support and (treat) individuals with long COVID and the epidemic of mental health challenges that communities are facing right now.”

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