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The Issue of Invisibility: Gaps in Data for Native Americans and the COVID-19 Crisis

Afaaf Amatullah, Peg Cook, Library, Elmhurst University, 190 S Prospect Ave, Elmhurst, IL 60126.

The COVID-19 crisis has disproportionately impacted indigenous populations and Native American territories in the United States. Chronic preexisting health conditions, such as heart disease and diabetes, linked to aggravated COVID-19 infections affect Native American populations at a relatively higher rate than their white counterparts. This research tracks the gaps in data on preexisting conditions and the impact of COVID within this population. The lack of federal funding to Native American nations has contributed to such gaps. These gaps have made it difficult to locate coronavirus hotspots in Native American nations and to offer an accurate representation of the COVID-19 impact on indigenous populations. Data-driven discrimination can occur when gaps in data on Native Americans translate into inadequate health care policy initiatives. Native Americans are often left out of public health data by government agencies; for example, in April 2020, nearly half of all states reporting COVID-19 data labeled Native Americans as “other” (Nagle). This invisibility can cause issues with resource allocation; tribal nations have been unable to receive necessary supplies during the COVID-19 crisis. The federal government has obstructed indigenous communities from health care development efforts on multiple fronts in the past and now continues to do so during the COVID-19 crisis. The pertinence of accurate data representation rests on the need for government policies to be representative and supportive of the American population, including indigenous peoples. Data disaggregated by race is critical to the relentless struggle of America’s underserved communities in gaining representation at a national scale. 




Additional Abstract Information

Presenter: Afaaf Amatullah

Institution: Elmhurst University

Type: Oral

Subject: Interdisciplinary Studies

Status: Approved


Time and Location

Session: Oral 3
Date/Time: Mon 4:30pm-5:30pm
Session Number: 326
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