Devastating COVID-19 Rate Disparities Ripping Through Pacific Islander Communities in the U.S.

May 08, 2020

LOS ANGELES, April 24, 2020 - The Pacific Islanders COVID-19 Response Team with the Pacific Islander Center of Primary Care Excellence (PI-CoPCE) today released the following statement in response to new data showing the alarming disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities:

The Pacific Islander community is grappling with the latest COVID-19 data revealing that Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders (NHPI)  are the most impacted racial group in many states and counties across the nation. Pacific Islanders is one of the fastest growing populations in many states with the largest growth occurring in the South and the Midwest. Some states and counties are reporting alarming rates of NHPI COVID-19 cases that are several times higher that of the general population. Advocates are concerned that the high number of essential workers coupled with communal cultural practices will accelerate spread of the of the virus while existing high rates of underlying health conditions such as heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and lung disease will result in high rates of death in the community.

Although data that separates NHPI numbers from the general population is limited, the states and counties that are reporting this data show similar trends: Pacific Islanders are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. California has the largest NHPI population in the contiguous U.S. and shows the highest case rate per 100,000 people. Preliminary analyses of data from Multonomah County in Oregon and Clark County in Nevada are demonstrating similar findings with the highest rates of infection being seen in Pacific Islander communities. 

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