LA County Native American organizations launch PSA to combat COVID-19 and save lives
With COVID-19 cases on the rise, the Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission, LA Native American Community-Based Organizations, and Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell partner to remind Los Angeles’ Native communities to protect themselves against the pandemic
LOS ANGELES, CA: In response to the continued rise of confirmed Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations across Los Angeles County, the Los Angeles City/County Native American Indian Commission (LANAIC), in collaboration with local American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) community-based organizations and LA City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell (CD-13), has launched a video PSA to provide critical messaging to Los Angeles’ AIAN community.
The one-minute PSA focuses on encouraging one of LA’s highest risk and under-counted communities to continue to utilize best health and safety practices throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. “For Our Ancestors. For Our Families. For Our Future,” the tagline of the PSA, serves as a reminder and powerful call to action for community members to continue to leverage their collective strength and resiliency during this crisis. The PSA features local Native community members that represent the diversity of Los Angeles’ urban Native community, as well as centers the first peoples of the LA Basin – the Tongva, Chumash, and Tataviam.
“We know that any messaging to our community is best delivered via trusted messengers,” said LANAIC Chairwoman Chrissie Castro (Navajo). “What’s beautiful about this effort is that our Native organizations came together to produce and share this culturally appropriate message. It reminds our community that embracing healthy practices, including our cultural ways, is a way to honor our ancestors, to protect ourselves, our community, and our future.”
As of July 11, Los Angeles County’s Department of Public Health reports 112 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 9 deaths within the AIAN population. Local Native leaders believe the data is underreported, due to ongoing AIAN misclassification in data collection and reporting, as well as disproportionate risks for COVID-19 among the AIAN population.
At the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, the LANAIC acknowledged the potential disproportionate risk the virus posed for Los Angeles’ AIAN population and convened the LA Native COVID Response Working Group – a collective of LA-based AIAN serving organizations. Together they have been working collaboratively throughout the pandemic to provide resources and support to the community. According to the LA County Department of Public Health’s Office of Women’s Health, the LA AIAN community experiences numerous health and economic risk factors, many which make them vulnerable to the impacts of the COVID pandemic including:
- Disproportionate rates of underlying medical conditions that may lead to a compromised immune system, such as diabetes, heart disease, and lung disease.
- Higher mortality rates from coronary heart disease and diabetes compared to all other races (157.8 per 100,000 population, and 58.2 per 100,000 population, respectively).
- AIAN adults are more likely to be uninsured (25% of AIAN adults 18-64) than all other adults in LA County (21.5%).
- 56% of adult AIAN households report incomes of less than 200% of the Federal Poverty Level.
“Health and mortality data for AIAN is notoriously misclassified and underreported. Use of the more restrictive AIAN only definition effectively cuts the size of the AIAN population in half, while misclassification in mortality data can lead to underestimates as high as 50%.” said Dr. Andrea Garcia (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara), who also serves as a LANAIC Commissioner. “Knowing that we have had to actively combat demographic erasure by continually educating and advocating for use of proper definitions of AIAN speaks to one of the many ways that systemic racism has historically and continues to affect our community through the pandemic.”
For more information on COVID-19 resources and services visit: https://lanaic.lacounty.gov/