American Indian Water Insecurity in the Era of COVID-19

  • Felicia Mitchell Arizona State University
Keywords: american indians, covid-19, environmental justice, water, water insecurity, Indigenous people


In 2020, many of the COVID-19 outbreaks in the U.S. have been in majority-Black and Indigenous communities, where residents are continually water insecure and have been striving for access to affordable, safe water for years, if not decades. Frequent hand washing is recommended as one of the primary ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19. However, regular hand washing necessitates access to adequate, safe, and affordable water. Water insecurity is a significant problem for Indigenous people in the U.S., with nearly 9% of American Indian households lacking safe and sufficient water resources compared to less than 1% of the general U.S. population. Without access to safe water, COVID-19 disproportionality affects Indigenous people in the U.S. who live in water insecure settings. To protect the health of tribal communities, urgent action is needed to push forward policy reform and successive action that was needed prior to the pandemic but is necessary now more than ever.


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