LONG BEACH (CBSLA) — Pacific Islanders in Los Angeles County are being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.
In May, the county’s public health department reported that the estimated coronavirus death rate for Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islanders is between 53 and 154 people per 100,000 compared to the lowest rate of 13 cases per 100,000 White residents.
The Ili family documented their family’s battle with the coronavirus on YouTube.
26-year-old Pele Ili’s brother, mother and father were all hospitalized with coronavirus complications after weeks of experiencing flu-like symptoms.
His mother Lina got it the worst and had to be placed on a ventilator for four days and was in the hospital for two weeks total.
While she made it out alive, she witnessed a woman across the hall lose her life to the virus as family members said their goodbyes through video chat.
The rest of the Ili family has since recovered from coronavirus and they’re spreading their story to help encourage others to take safety precautions seriously.
“I didn’t know if we were gonna come out of it and who was gonna take care of them and when you look back on everything that you did, you have to do everything differently,” Ili said.
Experts say Pacific Islanders, who are being disproportionately impacted by the coronavirus, also have high rates of heart disease and diabetes, which can put people at a higher risk of coronavirus complications.
Traditions in the Pacific Islander community also often revolve around family and community gatherings — something that health experts warn against as coronavirus cases continue to rise nationwide.
Dr. Raynald Samoa is leading efforts to educate Pacific Islander communities about coronavirus risks and resources.
“We have to understand that in this time and place, how do we keep those values alive without exposing each other to the virus,” Samoa said.
The Ili family is taking notes and have begun using Zoom to talk to their family and watch church services online.
The family has also incorporated healthier eating habits and more exercise into their daily life to help keep their immune systems strong.
“We didn’t take care of ourselves prior to the coronavirus and then as soon as it hit us, I kinda knew it was bc of our health conditions that were affected more,” Ili said. “And that’s why now our health is a lot more important. We don’t know about this virus and how long this virus is going to be around and if something strong comes, God Forbid, at least we’ll be in better shape to take it on.”