COVID-19 Hits Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander Communities the Hardest; this Paper Has Lessons for All of Us


This paper isolates a population comprising several ethnic groups, called Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI), in the US, that are urban, working class, low income, and have many comorbidities, like diabetes, obesity, HBP, asthma, and cancer that make COVID-19 worse. They are suffering the highest levels of disease and fatality.

In California, NHPI have tested positive for COVID-19 at 2.5x the rate of whites. HNPI are dying of COVID-19 at 4.2x the rate of whites.

Communities like this exist within all the racial categories (African American, Hispanic White, Non-Hispanic White, Asian American, Native American), but their statistics would be combined with the larger group, neutralizing or diminishing the impact of the effects of COVID-19.

NHPI communities had that exact problem when their data were mixed with the broader Asian American population data, because the AAPI category includes a large number of middle class and affluent East Asians who are filtered through post-1965 US immigration laws, which favor educated, professional, and wealthy immigrants, and prevent working class immigrants from entering.

The NHPI population are not immigrants, but US citizens who are internal migrants within the US, just like Puerto Ricans. They are from US territories, states, or lands that were territories in the past. Many of these colonized people live in places where the minimum wage is lower than in the 50 states.

By disaggregating their data, we see better what’s happening with COVID-19 within their community.

We may also get insight into how it impacts similar communities within the US, who might otherwise be “averaged out” within a larger racial category, or by the national statistics.

The paper also goes into strategies to manage the pandemic, using community resources and traditions. I think this is critical, to get a different perspective on the pandemic, slightly separated from the polarized and politicized response by the greater US population.

New Dashboard Map of California COVID-19 Profiled by Race

This new dynamic map shows how different groups are being impacted. NHPI are disaggregated from “Asian” and you can see how heavy the damage has been.



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