New data shows COVID-19 hitting MT tribal communities hard

Posted at 2:19 PM, Aug 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-17 10:32:49-04

The Montana Department of Health and Human Services (MTDPHHS) released new data on Wednesday breaking down how the novel coronavirus is impacting Montanans along racial and ethnic lines.

The data shows the virus may be hitting Native American communities harder than others.

Native Americans make up 7% of Montana’s total population, but the data shows they account for 18% of all coronavirus cases in the state, and 35% of all coronavirus deaths, as of August 7. The numbers are consistent with a similar impact analysis released in July.


Native Americans are also at a greater risk for pre-existing conditions, which could also make them more susceptible to the virus.

Tribal health leaders tell MTN News the new data reflects the challenges their communities have long faced when it comes to accessing health care.

“We have a high-risk population here, that we need to take care of,” Camille Stein, public information officer for the Fort Belknap Indian Community, said. “We don’t have the health delivery system to hospitalize somebody here, so that’s a really big challenge for us.”


Tribal epidemiologists tell MTN News they are continuing to work with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to analyze the latest data on how the virus is disproportionately impacting Native Americans.