Virus still present on the Navajo Nation
Tribal president says Nation cannot afford a second wave of infections
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Health officials with the Navajo Nation have reported 125 new cases of coronavirus and five new related deaths on the reservation as of June 10.
The death toll has reached 311 and reservation-wide cases totaled 6,611 as of June 15.
Tribal officials also said preliminary reports from 11 health care facilities indicate nearly 3,158 people have recovered from COVID-19 with more reports pending. More than 44,207 people have been tested.
Navajo officials are cautioning tribal members about dropping their guard too soon while the pandemic remains a serious threat throughout the U.S. In Arizona, health care officials are reporting spikes in new cases and hospitals have been told to prepare for the worst.
Navajo Nation relief efforts June 9 and 12
Navajo President Jonathan Nez said in a statement that the health care system on the Navajo Nation can't afford a second wave of infections, noting it already has been strained since the first cases were reported in mid-March.
'We have to continue making good decisions by staying home as much as possible, wearing protective masks in public, washing our hands often, practicing social distancing, and all of the good practices that have helped to flatten the curve in our communities," he said. "Now is not the time to start traveling off the (Navajo) Nation. It only takes a few people to travel off the Nation and spread the virus in our communities once again."
Navajo leaders also encouraged those living on the reservation to take care of the older population, a recent article from Cronkite News reported.
“We’ve spent $1.6 million on funerals,” Vice President Myron Lizer told the town hall. “We can’t just blame the government, we are all part of this.”
Lizer and Nez said caring for one’s relatives, especially older Navajos who are at higher risk for COVID-19 infection and complications, is the responsibility of the Navajo people.
“We have to shield them from this monster that is taking over our land,” Nez said.
The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Community reported June 11 the first death of a tribal member living on the reservation in metropolitan Phoenix.
"The state of Arizona and businesses have opened, but the virus is still among us," said tribal President Martin Harvier.
How to help
The Navajo & Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief Fund has raised more than $4.7 million to help support Navajo and Hopi communities since it was created March 15. Donations made to the group’s GoFundMe page are used to purchase healthful foods and cleaning supplies, among other needs.
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