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COVID-19 was the leading killer of Native Americans in Montana last year

 Nurses administer a nasal swab to test people for the COVID-19 illness at a surveillance testing event in Crow Agency May 27, 2020.
Nicky Ouellet
/
Yellowstone Public Radio/File photo
Nurses administer a nasal swab to test people for COVID-19 at a surveillance testing event in Crow Agency in 2020.

COVID-19 was the leading cause of death among American-Indians in Montana last year, according to a recent state health department report.

According to a review of death certificates by the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, deaths among American-Indian and Alaska Natives spiked 36% in 2020 compared to the previous five years, largely due to COVID-19.

The analysis shows the rate of COVID deaths among American-Indian and Alaska Native people in Montana was also over double that of Indigenous people across the entire country.

People identifying as Indigenous in Montana account for about 7% of the state’s total population, and accounted for 15% of coronavirus mortalities in 2020.

The state health department says there are several reasons for these disparities, including more multi-generational households among Native American families, lack of access to health care and a higher rate of underlying health conditions like diabetes and chronic lung diseases.

COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death statewide in 2020.

Copyright 2022 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Aaron is Montana Public Radio's Flathead reporter.