Tribes make preparations for COVID-19, no reported cases on Hopi and Navajo land
FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The Hopi and Navajo Nations have reported no cases of COVID-19 on their reservations as of March 9 as the virus continues its spread across the globe. The Navajo Nation issued a travel advisory for its people March 4.
As of March 9, according to the Arizona Department of Health Services website, there are two confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Arizona and three presumptive positive cases, which means that the people tested positive, but the test needs to be confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Fifty-six people have been tested in Arizona, with seven tests still pending. Fouty-four people have been ruled out for having the virus.
As it issued its travel advisory, the Nation said it had established a preparedness team Feb. 27 to monitor, plan, prepare and coordinate efforts to address the virus.
“We advise all of our employees and Navajo citizens to limit their travel to other states and internationally for the time being. Our administration is taking proactive measures to continue raising public awareness and to plan and prepare for the potential spread of COVID-19 virus in our region. The provisions outlined in the travel advisory are intended to raise awareness, to educate our Navajo people, and not to create unnecessary hysteria,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said.
Hopi Radio KUYI has been airing public service announcements from federal materials to combat anxiety about the virus on the Hopi reservation. KTNN aired a forum with the Navajo Nation president to address concerns from the public.
President Donald Trump signed an $8.3 billion measure March 9 to help tackle the coronavirus outbreak — the legislation would provide federal public health agencies money for vaccines, tests and potential treatments, and help state and local governments prepare for and respond to the threat, according to the Associated Press.
The National Council of Urban Indian Health (NCUIH) said the bill includes CDC funds totaling $2.2 billion, which includes funding for cooperative agreements for ‘tribes, tribal organizations, urban Indian health organizations, or health service providers to tribes to help with preparedness and response activities related to the virus.
“NCUIH is glad to see Congress come together so quickly to provide the critical funding necessary to protect the health of American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN) patients across Indian Country, particularly to protect those AI/ANs who live within cities and urban areas, where the COVID-19 is spreading at a rapid pace,” said Executive Director Francys Crevier.
According to the Arizona Department of Health Services website, reported illnesses have ranged from mild symptoms to severe illness and death for confirmed coronavirus disease COVID-19 cases.
The following symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure:
• Shortness of breath
The virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person.
• Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
• Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.
There is currently no vaccine to prevent coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The best way to prevent illness is to avoid being exposed to this virus. However, as a reminder, CDC always recommends everyday preventive actions to help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases, including:
• Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Stay home when you are sick.
• Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
• Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
• Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19. Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
• Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
• If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
Call your healthcare professional if you feel sick with fever, cough, or difficulty breathing, and have been in close contact with a person known to have COVID-19, or if you live in or have recently traveled from an area with ongoing spread of COVID-19.
Your healthcare provider will work with the local health department and ADHS to determine if you need to be tested for COVID-19.
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