How COVID-19 impacted the Hmong community 

A man wearing a face mask cuts large cardboard into a star.
Ching Vang, 30, (left) cuts cardboard into a star-shaped flower on Jan. 22 as Chai Xiong moves an airplane decorated with paper money boats. Rather than the traditional large nightly gatherings, only close family members have met to fold thousands of paper money boats, which are used as money in the afterlife for the deceased person.
Christine T. Nguyen | MPR News file

The Hmong community was hit hard by COVID-19. Even as Minnesota emerges from the pandemic, the worry and grief of the last year will linger for many in the tight-knit community. 

Beloved elders who survived the refugee experience and the start of a new life in Minnesota were lost to the virus. Community leaders battled misinformation. And, the strong tradition of Hmong communal life — including extended family activities and big funerals — came into direct conflict with the need to socially distance to be safe from the virus. 

The Minnesota Department of Health tracks COVID-19 cases by broad racial groups, not specific ethnic categories, so it is hard to measure the extent of the impact of COVID-19 on Hmong people. One recent report found that Hmong people accounted for half of the deaths in Minnesota among Asians who died of COVID-19 in 2020. 

Host Angela Davis explored some of the cultural and economic reasons the virus took such a toll in the Hmong community and recent efforts to encourage  vaccinations. 


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