Long before COVID-19 reached our communities, tribal nations already suffered higher mortality rates from infectious diseases compared to the general population. The additional setbacks of an underfunded healthcare system, higher rates of poverty and a limited inventory of personal protective equipment have left Native American communities to expect the worst outcomes during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“It’s only been 50 years since the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975, that we’ve been able to run our own healthcare systems after centuries of having our systems decimated,” said Mary Owen, MD, director of the Center of American Indian and Minority Health and assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Biobehavioral Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth campus. “It takes a while to get back on your feet, and we’re starting to do that. We’re worried about COVID-19 destroying the work that’s already been done to improve our health disparities.” 

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The Center of American Indian and Minority Health has developed tribal health materials and videos available for download that focus on coping with COVID-19 for both youth and adults. To access those resources, visit med.umn.edu/caimh.