Thursday, May 28, 2020 from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM EDT
Add to Calendar 


Dial-In to Follow 



Hang Tran 


Media teleconference sponsored by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Health Equity in Real Time with COVID-19:  
U. of North Dakota Researcher, Physician Donald Warne on COVID-19’s Impact on American Indians, from Sovereign Tribal Nations to “Invisible” Urban Communities 

As states across the country begin to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic, American Indian communities like the Navajo Nation are grappling with scarce resources and infection rates that have eclipsed early epicenters in New York and New Jersey. 

Driving these infection rates are long-standing inequities, including limited access to health care, overcrowded housing, high rates of poverty and chronic disease, and limited access to basic services like grocery stores, supplies and running water. These high numbers can also be attributed to sovereign tribal nations’ robust testing programs. For example, Navajo Nation has the highest testing rate per capita in the United States with 13 percent of its residents tested for the virus. 

But with 70 percent of American Indians living in urban areas and 78 percent living outside of sovereign tribal nations, the ability to control the spread of the virus is a challenge. Inadequate data collection and historic distrust of the government create barriers to understanding the impact in what some call an “invisible” community. 

To help journalists report on the health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on American Indian communities both now and as states navigate reopeningUniversity of North Dakota researcher and physician Donald Warne, MD, MPH, will be available to answer questions on Thursday, May 28

Dr. Warne will cover: 

  • What has the research revealed about American Indians’ biggest public health challenges before COVID-19? 
  • How has the impact of COVID-19 on American Indian communities differed from others? 
  • How do experiences in sovereign tribal nations compare to those of American Indians living in urban communities? 
  • What can be done in the short- and long-term, particularly around data collection and reporting, to address inequities exacerbated by COVID-19? 

Moderator: Nicole Bronzan, senior communications officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation