The COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force Stakeholder Briefing on the American Indian/Alaska Native Community

The COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force stakeholder briefing on the American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) Community was held virtually last week. During this call, there were some recommendations for AI/AN people.


  • The Federal Government should fully fund the Indian Health Service (IHS) and self-determined Tribes as recommended by the IHS budget formulation committee for health care and health services for AI/AN population who receive care through the IHS and other facilities. And this funding should continue through the IHS to establish capabilities for public health emergency and pandemic preparedness, response, and recovery for all AI/AN people whether on or off Federally recognized reservations or other Tribal lands.
  • The Federal Government should partner with communities to expand testing and vaccination effort to reach AI/AN populations, where they live and work.
  • The Federal Government should conduct communications campaigns during public health emergencies. These campaigns should use science-based, non-political sources by partnering with state, local, Tribal, and territorial health care institutions, community organizations, and other trusted sources to promote public health prevention behaviors, such as vaccine awareness and uptake, testing, contact tracing, masking, and social distancing, within local communities, those communities who have been hardest hit by COVID-19 exposure, illness, and death.
  • The Federal Government should strengthen access to affordable broadband internet in medically underserved communities, including rural, Tribal, and territorial communities.
  • Create funding to access to healthy food options by expanding Federal nutrition safety net programs and using technology to make those programs more accessible.
  • The Federal Government must commit to improve environmental justice during pandemics and future health-related emergencies. For instance, ensuring access to clear water and sanitation.
  • Federal, state, local, Tribal, and territorial governments should prioritize testing, vaccine distribution, treatment, and personal protective equipment access to AI/AN population including those who face mobility, geographic, or other barriers to access.
  • Expand telehealth and telemedicine access and reimbursement.
  • The Federal Government should invest in a virtual education infrastructure to support the continuation of quality education and related services in cases where schools must dynamically shift between in-classroom and remote learning contexts, as may be required by future pandemics.
  • The Federal Government should reduce hospital and health care facility closures that negatively affect AI/AN communities.
  • The Federal Government should expand essential health benefits and coverage to address patient comorbidities, and health care needs during a pandemic.
  • Federal, state, local, Tribal, and territorial governments should invest in data infrastructures to research and collect data on behavioral health.
  • The Federal Government should implement solutions for those AI/AN at increased risk of death from COVID-19.


AI/ANs can find stakeholder briefing recording, here; and COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force Final Report, here.