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American Indians/Alaska Natives Have Elevated COVID-19 Mortality

THURSDAY, Dec. 10, 2020 -- American Indians/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) have disproportionate COVID-19 mortality rates, according to research published in the Dec. 11 issue of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.

Jessica Arrazola, Dr.P.H., from the Council of State and Territorial Epidemiologists in Atlanta, and colleagues examined the prevalence of COVID-19 deaths in the AI/AN population in light of disproportionate mortality experienced during the 2009 influenza A(H1N1) pandemic.

The CDC reported 2,689 COVID-19-associated deaths among non-Hispanic AI/AN persons in the United States as of Dec. 2, 2020. The researchers found that among 14 participating states, the age-adjusted AI/AN COVID-19 mortality rate was 1.8 times that among White persons (55.8 versus 30.3 deaths per 100,000). Among both AI/AN and White persons, COVID-19 mortality rates increased with age, but the largest disparity was seen for those aged 20 to 49 years. The COVID-19 mortality rates among AI/AN were 10.5, 11.6, and 8.2 times greater than those among White persons for individuals aged 20 to 29, 30 to 39, and 40 to 49 years, respectively.

"These findings suggest that, compared with the White population, the AI/AN population in the 14 participating states has been disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, especially among younger age groups," the authors write. "Improving the quality of COVID-19 data will be important for AI/AN communities and their partners to identify populations experiencing excess risk and [to] plan and implement prevention activities and medical countermeasures."

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Posted: December 2020

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