Blood pressure monitors, pulse oximeters, and technology that supports telemedicine and behavioral health visits are on their way to meet elders from indigenous Minnesota communities. The Native American Community Clinic in Minneapolis and the Northwest Indian Community Development Center in Bemidji distribute these infection prevention tools under a grant agreement with the Minnesota Department of Human Services.

“Simple devices can help people stay healthy at home, save lives and make a real difference,” said Jodi Harpstead, Commissioner for Human Services. “This is a smart, focused approach to helping Minnesota indigenous communities.”

More than $ 500,000 will be used to provide equipment and technology to provide vulnerable Indians with access to basic services and supportive services to keep them safe at home. State and federal health officials advise adults at greatest risk of developing serious illness from COVID-19 to stay at home safely until they can be vaccinated.

Data shows that Indians were disproportionately affected by COVID-19 infections and deaths during the pandemic. They have the highest percentage of hospitalizations (16%) admitted to intensive care (6%) and deaths (4%) from COVID-19 compared to other racial and ethnic communities.

Federal aid from the Coronavirus Relief Fund will finance these efforts. Governor Tim Walz’s Working Group on Populations at Risk, an inter-agency collaboration to combat COVID-19 in those groups, developed the intervention and received approval from the state’s Legislative Advisory Commission.