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The latest news about the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 in Montana.

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
Nurses administer a nasal swab to test people for the COVID-19 illness at a surveillance testing event in Crow Agency May 27, 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 percent 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 Ingegenous people across the entire country.

People identifying as Indigenous in Montana account for about 7 percent of the state’s total population, and accounted for 15 percent of coronavirus mortalities in 2020, according to a state health department report.

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.

Aaron graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Journalism in 2015 after interning at Minnesota Public Radio. He landed his first reporting gig in Wrangell, Alaska where he enjoyed the remote Alaskan lifestyle and eventually moved back to the road system as the KBBI News Director in Homer, Alaska. He joined the MTPR team in 2019. Aaron now reports on all things in northwest Montana and statewide health care.