COVID-19 hospital death rates double for Native Americans

Native American and Alaska Native populations have experienced in-hospital COVID-19 death rates two to three times higher than all other races, as well as some of the highest hospitalization and death rates from COVID- 19 in the United States, according to a new study.

Despite proportionately lower comorbidity risk scores than black and white patients, Native American and Alaska Native patients were more likely to die in hospital due to COVID-19 than black or white patients at all time points. comorbidity risk levels, according to a JAMA Network Open report Wednesday.

Native American communities struggled with barriers to accessing adequate care during the pandemic, the study found. And in general, public health records have suffered from a lack of Indigenous representation in demographics.

The report examined 18,731 Mississippi adults hospitalized with COVID-19 between March and December 2020, using hospital discharge data from the Mississippi Inpatient Outpatient Data System. About 1.2% of those included in the study were American Indian and Alaska Native, 49.1% were black, and 48.7% were white.

Black and white patients in all comorbidity risk groups had 75% and 77% lower hospital mortality rates than American Indian and Alaska Native patients, respectively.

Among those with the most comorbidities, nearly 7 in 10 American Indian and Alaska Native patients admitted to hospital with COVID-19 died before discharge, compared to less than 3 in 10 black or white patients.

One in 10 Native American and Alaska Native adults with the lowest comorbidity risks died in hospital with COVID-19, compared to 1 or fewer in 25 black or white adults.

Native Americans in the United States had 296,967 COVID-19 infections and 8,983 deaths attributed to the virus by the end of 2021. Native Americans and Alaska Natives were 1.6 times more likely to be infected, 3 .3 times more likely to be hospitalized, and 2.2 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than white people.

According to the study, approximately 40% of eligible American Indian and Alaska Native health care needs are not covered by the government, and lack of nearby access to medical services is more likely to contribute to hospital mortality rates than comorbidities.

In general, Native Americans have shorter life expectancies and die at higher rates than other racial groups due to a number of conditions including chronic liver disease, diabetes, mental illnesses and diseases. chronic lower respiratory tract.

All communities of the Choctaw Indian Band of Mississippi are federally designated medically underserved areas, particularly because the 20-bed Choctaw Health Center on the reservation is the only hospital affiliated with Indian Health Services. of State.

Tier One and Tier Two COVID-19 Centers in Mississippi are dozens of miles from the Choctaw Reservation, and Indigenous people seeking a non-IHS facility typically must follow a complex and complex reimbursement process. along the care purchased or referred. Often these expenses end up not being paid due to chronic underfunding.

Nohemi M. Moore