Navajo increases ability to do COVID testing, vaccinations

Koda Frank, 10, receives his first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 18 from Coconino County nurse Megan Hinkley at a mobile vaccine pop-up event  in Page, Arizona. The event was sponsored by the city of Page, Coconino County Health and Human Services and partners Canyonlands Healthcare. (Katherine Locke/NHO)

Koda Frank, 10, receives his first shot of the COVID-19 vaccine Dec. 18 from Coconino County nurse Megan Hinkley at a mobile vaccine pop-up event in Page, Arizona. The event was sponsored by the city of Page, Coconino County Health and Human Services and partners Canyonlands Healthcare. (Katherine Locke/NHO)

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — Health facilities on the Navajo Nation are increasing the ability to test for COVID-19 and vaccinate people as the omicron variant spreads, tribal leaders said.

Navajo President Jonathan Nez said the facilities also are working to give out more home testing kits this month while cases are surging.

The tribe reported 129 additional COVID-19 cases and 117 delayed reported cases. The death toll remains at 1,600.

"The Navajo Department of Health has implemented many public health emergency orders, but the trend in new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths ultimately comes down to the individual choices we make each day. So, please make the right choices for yourself, your family, friends, and everyone in your community," Nez said in a statement Jan. 17.

The omicron variant spreads much more easily than other coronavirus strains. However, early studies show omicron is less likely to cause severe illness than the previous delta variant.

The 27,000 square-mile Navajo Nation extends into Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

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