MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Rep. Ilhan Omar is sharing a tragedy that many families in America are facing right now — her father has died from COVID-19 at age 67
The Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives shared a photo of herself with Nur Omar Mohamed on social media Monday night, which shows the strong bond between Omar and her father. In it, he’s shown escorting her to Washington D.C. as she was set to be sworn in.
It was 23 years earlier the pair had arrived in the U.S. from a refugee camp in Kenya.
In the wake of his death, some in the Somali community talking about how the virus has hit them hard. Saciido Shaie lives in Minneapolis and says she’s seen too many people die.
“I’d like to send my condolences to Ilhan and her family,” Shaie said. “I know almost ten elder men who died. I want to send my condolences to them and their families but it is very sad to know our elders, particularly our men, are dying.”
Data from the Department of Health shows that, overall, the number of black Minnesotans infected is more than half that of white Minnesotans. These numbers are critical because black Minnesotans make up only 8 percent of the state’s overall population.
“It is true and I don’t have an exact answer on that but we know that that’s happening,” Dr. Sadia Jama, with the HealthPartners Midway Clinic, said.
Jama, a native of Somalia and a St. Paul physician, says there are many reasons for the disparities. Some say it’s access to care. And for older immigrants, there can be a language barrier to important health information. Jama is trying to get information out.
“I recommend that people wear masks, whether you’re sick or healthy, I recommend people use masks,” Jama said.
Omar says she is dealing with immense sadness and pain, and is asking for privacy.
The Minnesota Department of Health have released Tuesday’s numbers for COVID-19. Nearly 200 new cases were confirmed since yesterday, and nine more Minnesotans have died.