10 Nov 2020

Pasifika still faring worst as US Covid impact increases

9:29 am on 10 November 2020

An endocrinologist of Pacific Island descent working in the United States says an increase in Covid-19 cases around the country is reflected within the Pacific and native Hawaiian communities.

Dr Raynald Samoa

Dr Raynald Samoa Photo: City of Hope

Los Angeles based Dr Raynald Samoa is the clinical advisor to the National Pacific Islander Covid-19 response team.

Pacific Islanders make up a very small proportion of the US mainland population, but they have experienced much higher death levels from the virus than any other community.

Dr Samoa said this continued to be the case.

We are seeing, like, this move from three months ago where the hotspots were primarily, some of that has moved slightly but what hasn't really decreased much is the impact that has had on native Hawaiian and Pacific Island populations here.

It's thought Pacific Islanders and native Hawaiians had fared badly during the pandemic because of high levels of underlying health problems.

They were also often employed in essential jobs, such as meat plants, or cannot afford to stop work.

In addition, multiple generations tended to live in somewhat crowded environments, potentially hastening the spread of the virus.

And other factors could be a lack of access to health care or access to medical insurance.

Dr Samoa is involved with a series of podcasts, Koviki talk podcasts, that reach out to Pacific people, covering issues related to Covid-19.

Meanwhile President-elect, Joe Biden, included Pacific Islanders in his statement about addressing health and economic disparities.

He pledged to ensure harder-hit communities are given the tests and supplies needed during the pandemic.

"We're gonna get states, cities and tribes, the tests and the supplies they need.

"We are gonna protect vulnerable populations who are most at risk in this virus. Older Americans and those with pre-existing conditions. We are gonna address the health and economic disparities that mean this virus is hitting the Black, Latino, Asian-American, Pacific Islanders, harder than white communities."