A Solemn Milestone for Indian Country: More than 10,000 COVID-19 Deaths

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of COVID-19 related deaths for the American Indian/Alaska Natives (AI/ANs) reached 10,259 as of February 5, 2022. This somber statistic is a reminder of how devastating COVID-19 has been for Tribal nations. We mourn the loss of our family members, friends, neighbors, and Tribal citizens due to COVID-19.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it is important that Tribal citizens remain vigilant. The best tool to prevent the worst outcomes from the virus is getting your vaccine and booster. The CDC data reinforces the importance of the vaccine and booster.


What does the CDC data show? 

  • The COVID-19 weekly death rate for the AI/AN community fell immediately after vaccinations began to be administered. The AI/AN weekly death rate peaked at 311 on December 19, 2020. This date coincides with when Pfizer and Moderna were both granted emergency use authorization. For the following six months, weekly Covid-19 deaths in Indian Country decreased to a low of 12 on June 26, 2021.
  • Weekly deaths began to increase again after June 26, 2021 although they have never reached the peak of 311 from pre-vaccinated times. When the Delta variant was introduced into the community, weekly deaths in Indian Country began to rise and peaked on September 11, 2021 at 160, approximately half of the pre-vaccinated maximum weekly death toll.

What does this mean?

  • While the weekly death rates have slowed down since the beginning of COVID-19, many Tribal citizens are still dying weekly of COVID-19. To stop this trend, show your Acts of Love to your community by:
  • Getting your COVID-19 vaccine or booster shot
  • Continuing to wear a mask or face covering over your nose and mouth in indoor public places
  • Practicing physical distancing (stay six feet apart from others)
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (or use hand sanitizer if soap and water is not available)

Visit the National Indian Health Board’s COVID-19 Tribal Resource Center for more information on how to stop the spread of COVID-19 in your community. The COVID-19 Tribal Resource Center features previous NIHB webinars, factsheets, and resources from partners like Area Indian Health Boards (AIHBs) and federal partners like CDC. It is also home to NIHB’s Act of Love webpage, where you can order Act of Love Post-Vaccination kits that include a face mask and hand sanitizer.

If you are interested in seeing the data and more analysis, please visit here.

For comments or questions, please email the Director of Tribal Health Data, Rochelle Ruffer at [email protected].