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Pacific Islanders topping the list of America's most vulnerable during Covid-19 pandemic

Peli Ili is one of 1.5 million Pacific Islanders topping the list of America's most vulnerable during the Covid-19 pandemic.

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1 NEWS Pacific Correspondent Barbara Dreaver updates an increasingly grave situation.

Mr Ili could only look on as his family faced death, his parents and brother admitted to intensive care in LA County.

They survived but not everyone is so lucky.

“My fear is that our village centres, our churches, are going to be where the hot spots are,” Dr Raynald Samoa from the US Pacific Covid-19 Response Team said.

Because there are small numbers of Pasifika in the US, their case and death tally are deceptively low, but infection rates show how these tiny communities are being decimated by Covid-19.

In Oregon they make up a fraction of the population but three per cent of cases, in Arkansas it's eight per cent.

It's even starker in Hawaii, where Pasifika are four per cent of residents, but account for a quarter of all cases.

“Essential workers will go home to the multigenerational homes and because there is the high evidence of chronic disease in the family multiple family members are usually susceptible,” Dr Samoa said.

Dr Malik Fuimaono who one frontline worker who was fearful.

“Our patients didn’t see the fear in our faces because we were wearing masks but deep inside it was very tough,” Dr Fuimaono said.

Two months ago, 1 NEWS revealed the us pacific response team had reached out to its New Zealand counterpart because our Pasifika community had dodged a Covid bullet.

“The reason most likely for that is the initiatives that are put into place to protect the communities such as contact tracing, being able to shelter at home because you have adequate resources, frequent testing,” Dr Samoa said.

Not so for US Pasifika, who are up to 10 times more likely to be admitted to hospital than white people.

Community leaders are now being asked to help change the way Pasifika gather in groups

“I think we were well equipped to deal with this on the spiritual side it’s just the precautionary side taking care of each other that’s been the difficult thing,” Reverend Pausa Thompson of the Samoan Congregational Christian Church said.