Small clinic facing big challenge: protecting the community from COVID-19

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The Native American Community Clinic on East Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis will have one of its largest COVID-19 vaccination events on Saturday, with around 160 people scheduled to receive shots.

The NACC has served the urban Native American community in Minneapolis since 2003, focusing on honoring health and tradition.

Centers for Disease Control studies show Indigenous communities are among the groups at higher risk for severe COVID-19 outcomes.

"This is a labor of love, this is the community that raised me and created me," said Dr. Antony Stately, NACC CEO. "This is important work, we’re a tiny little community."

Stately said staff has vaccinated more than 600 community members.

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Health care workers, elders and patients age 55-65 with high-risk medical conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity have been vaccinated, according to the clinic’s website.

"We can’t afford to lose people that know our songs, our language, our culture, these are the things that make us strong and resilient," Stately said.

Minnesota’s Department of Health data shows out of all Indigenous individuals who test positive for COVID-19, 10% are hospitalized.

"To help ensure equitable dosage distribution to communities that need it most, the state is working strategically with Minnesota’s 17 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), which serve Minnesota’s Black, Indigenous and Communities of Color, as well as the uninsured," wrote an MDH spokesperson. "We partner with these clinics because they serve underserved communities; many individuals in these communities have health issues that make them especially vulnerable to COVID-19."

MDH has taken a deeper dive into COVID-19 data to show how the pandemic is affecting certain communities in the state including case numbers, hospitalizations and deaths.