UTAH, 17 AUGUST 2020 (RNZ PACIFIC) —A public health specialist in the U.S state of Utah says this month’s closure of health clinics could badly affect Pacific Island victims of Covid-19.

Jacob Fitisemanu has been managing the Health Clinics of Utah, which are being shut down by the government as its finances are battered by the virus.

He said the clinics were for the under-served, those without health insurance or who faced other barriers.

Pacific Islanders were contracting Covid-19 at four times the overall rate in Utah and Fitisemanu said cutting clinic access in the midst of a pandemic was not a good decision.

It would mean that 13,000 active patients would have to find a new medical home, he said.

“That’s very difficult, especially for Pacific Island folks and anyone who is reluctant to seek care in the first place, to find a place where you feel welcome, to have a great rapport and relationship with your health care provider and have a medical regimen that works for you.”

Fitisemanu said the Pacific Island community was the segment of Utah society worst affected by Covid-19.

Nearly 2000 Pacific Islanders in Utah have been infected from a population of less than 46,000.

There were particularly high hospitalisation rates of Pacific Islanders, especially in Salt Lake County, where the biggest Pasifika population lives, he said…..PACNEWS

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