Navajo Nation welcomes top FEMA officials and state emergency management leader
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — On Oct. 1, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez welcomed FEMA officials and Arizona Division of Emergency Management Director Allen Clark to discuss the ongoing efforts with federal and state partners to mitigate and reduce the spread of COVID-19 on the Navajo Nation.
To help lead the efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic, the Office of the Navajo Nation President and Vice President and Navajo Department of Health established a health operations command center. Under the guidance of Navajo Department of Health Executive Director Dr. Jill Jim and HCOC Commander David Nez, a unified command group was created to unify and streamline coordination efforts, planning, and communication among the tribal, county, state, and federal officials.
Nez said, FEMA has played a vital role in the unified command group by stationing several emergency response experts at the command center during the pandemic.
“The war against COVID-19 continues and we appreciate the assistance and support that’s being provided by FEMA," Nez said. "They have been instrumental in securing and coordinating resources for healthcare facilities, chapters, and for our Navajo people."
FEMA Administrator Peter T. Gaynor and Regional Administrator for FEMA Region IX Robert J. Fenton commended the Navajo Nation for taking preventative measures through public health orders and reaffirmed their continued support for COVID-19 response and mitigation efforts.
Nez said FEMA has provided training and expertise to help build the Navajo Nation’s capacity to respond to emergencies and address challenges.
"We appreciate the support provided by Administrator Gaynor, Regional Administrator Fenton, Incident Management Assistance Team Lead Joshua Allan, and all of our HCOC team members for their hard work and dedication during this pandemic," he said.
Among many mitigation efforts, the Navajo Nation worked closely with FEMA, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Team Rubicon, Navajo Area IHS, and HCOC officials to establish Alternative Care Sites in the communities of Chinle, Shiprock, and Gallup to serve as isolation sites for positive COVID-19 patients to help prevent the further spread of the virus. FEMA and other officials also assisted with the coordination of essential food and supply items for communities on the Navajo Nation.
“Our efforts are focused on reducing the number of COVID-19 cases on a consistent basis until there is a safe vaccine available," said Navajo Nation Vice President Lizer. "We appreciate everything that FEMA and many others are doing to help prioritize the health and well-being of our Navajo people, particularly those with underlying health conditions and our elders. We may have won a few battles against COVID-19, but the war continues.”
Information provided by the Office of the President and Vice President
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