Native Americans make up 50% of COVID-19 deaths in New Mexico

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A worker mans the entrance to Gallup Indian Medical Center's COVID-19 testing facility. Marjorie Childress/New Mexico In Depth

Half of the 200 people who had died as of yesterday in New Mexico from COVID-19 were Native Americans, a jarring number for a population that makes up 11% of the state’s population.

It’s another grim statistic for the state’s 23 tribes who have borne the brunt of the COVID-19 pandemic in New Mexico. Nearly 60% of people identified to date through testing as infected with the virus are indigenous. 

Data about those who’ve died, provided to New Mexico In Depth by the New Mexico Department of Health, came in advance of Monday’s daily update from Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s office. That update included eight additional deaths, pushing the state’s death total to 208, four of which occurred in hard-hit McKinley County, where Native Americans make up almost 80% of the population. 

The 100 deaths attributed to Native Americans in New Mexico likely include Navajo people living in the state as well as Native Americans from the state’s more than 20 other tribes. 

Meanwhile, deaths attributed to white people in New Mexico–30%–exceed the 14% of identified positive cases attributed to that group, but still fall below their representation in the population as a whole.

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