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Pacific Islanders in Hawaii are twice as likely to die or be hospitalized from COVID-19, Civil Beat reported citing the State Health Department.
The findings came on the same day the feds awarded $1 million to the University of Hawaii at Manoa for increased COVID-19 testing among Pacific Islanders in Hawaii and Guam, The Kala reports.
According to the source, Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) announced that the $958,613 federal grant is going to the Puipuia le Ola project to improve testing outreach to Pacific Islander communities.
“We need to do more to fight outbreaks in Pacific Islander communities,” Schatz said in a press release. “By ramping up testing and supporting the targeted outreach efforts of local agencies on the ground, we can help stop the spread of the virus. There’s still more work to do, but this federal grant is a good start,” he added.
Schatz Senate also reported that according to the Hawaii Department of Public Health, Pacific Islanders make up 28% of the state’s COVID-19 infections. Yet Pacific Islanders make up only 4% of the islands’ total population. Considering this, increased testing is expected to help reduce the spread of the virus in the community. This will lead to fewer infection cases and deaths.
According to Star Advertiser, many Pacific Islanders suffer from medical conditions which “increase the risk of having severe COVID-19 symptoms.” Additional reasons for high rates of COVID-19 in the community include individuals working in high-risk service jobs, living in multi-generational housing, and lacking access to health care.
“This will be one of the first NIH-supported projects to [mitigate] COVID-19 among Pacific Islanders,” Dr. Richard Yanagihara told the Star Advertiser. Professor at UH’s John A. Burns School of Medicine, Yanagihara added that the project will help achieve collective partnerships and reduce long-standing health disparities among Pacific Islanders.
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