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Native American tribes hit especially hard by COVID-19

Posted at 7:01 PM, Nov 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-13 20:11:46-05

TULSA, Okla. — New numbers from the Cherokee Nation show COVID-19 is hitting the tribe especially hard.

The nation is reporting more than 4,000 positive cases. W.W. Hastings Hospital in Tahlequah said it’s ICU is at full capacity with COVID patients.

Earlier in the pandemic, a CDC study found Native American tribes have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. People with Native American heritage are also 6 times more likely to be hospitalized with the virus.

READ MORE: Cherokee Nation works to get through next wave of COVID-19

Persisting racial inequalities and socioeconomic disparities are thought to be contributing factors.

“Obesity, diabetes and lung disease are epidemics in Indian Country already,” said Dr. Jesicah Gilmore with the Indian Health Care Resource Center. “You combine the lack of access to healthcare and socioeconomic factors and a COVID-19 pandemic, you end up with higher death rates.”

The Indian Health Care Resource Center recently revamped their testing capabilities. It's strongly encouraging tribe members to get tested for the virus if they believe they have been exposed. Those who are tested by the clinic must bring their Certificate of Degree of Indian Blood (CDIB) card.

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