Due to the prevalence of diabetes, hypertension, obesity, multi-generational households and poor living conditions, American Indian and Alaska Native people living in urban settings may be dangerously vulnerable to COVID-19. For these individuals, the risk may be even greater because their access to health care facilities located on reservations is limited. But targeted testing in these communities has been virtually nonexistent, so the severity of the crisis remains unknown.
To meet this threat, a new multi-center project has been launched by IREACH director Dr. Dedra Buchwald, in collaboration with Dr. Rich MacLehose of the University of Minnesota and Dr. Spero Manson of the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. Funded by a $4.4 million grant from the National Institutes of Health, the project will partner with Urban Indian Health Programs in Albuquerque, Anchorage, Denver, Minneapolis, Seattle, and Wichita. Researchers will assess levels of testing and challenges that prevent urban American Indians and Alaska Natives from getting tested and vaccinated. The aim is to generate creative solutions and fund new resources to increase testing and limit the spread of COVID-19 in these vulnerable populations.
Listen to and read a Spokane Public Radio story about the project here.