20 Jul 2020

Pacific Islanders in parts of California six times more likely to get Covid-19

12:54 pm on 20 July 2020

Reports from the US state of California say, in some counties, Pacific Islanders are six times more likely to contract Covid-19 than others.

People in cars (TOP L) are lined up to be tested for COVID-19 as they make their way to a parking lot at Dodger Stadium amid the coronavirus pandemic on June 26, 2020 in Los Angeles, California.

Testing station in Los Angeles Photo: AFP

In L.A. County, Pacific Islanders suffer the highest infection rate of any racial or ethnic group, more than 2,500 per 100,000 residents.

Six times higher than for white people, five times higher than for black people and three times higher than for Latinos, according to county health demographic data that excludes Long Beach and Pasadena.

State-wide data from health authorities show 1,389 confirmed cases and 35 deaths among Pacific islanders.

In proportion to population, that death rate is nearly 60 percent higher than white people, but lower than that of black residents.

This mirrored similar reports from other states, such as Arkansas and Utah, where infections have soared.

The Los Angeles Times reported health officials put the high toll down to reduced access to healthcare, poverty and crowded, communal living.

The community was also said to be more prone to the virus because of underlying health conditions.

Many Pacific Islanders also worked in frontline jobs, such as hospitality and healthcare, where they were more likely to contract the virus and take it home.

In addition Pacific communities had continued to hold large family gatherings and in-person church services, despite requirements on social distancing.

Endocrinologist, Dr Raynald Samoa, said the shame factor was another issue with people not getting their families tested.

"They're not speaking out, they're not getting identified because they're afraid that they're going to have to stay home from work or that it's going to negatively impact their family."

An aerial view looking towards west along Hollywood Blvd at the intersection with Highland Ave during morning rush hour on Monday April 27, 2020 in Los Angeles, California during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

An aerial view of a normally packed LA street during the Covid-19 pandemic Photo: AFP or licensors