Navajo Nation Successfully Beats Back COVID-19 With Hard Work & Diligence

Not that long ago, the Navajo Nation, which covers parts of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, was enmired in despair and death. Large numbers of...

Not that long ago, the Navajo Nation, which covers parts of Utah, Arizona and New Mexico, was enmired in despair and death. Large numbers of Navajo people were being sucked into the vortex of COVID-19. Many were dying.

Two generations of Navajo: Historic photo. (Wikimedia)

It was only August 19th, about a month ago, when the Copper River Country Journal published the following story about the Navajo and their struggles:

The Navajo (along with many other Native peoples) have been far more attuned to the issues of epidemics and diseases than the American population in general. Epidemics have played an enormous role in recent history among Native Americans, felling countless people in waves of disease that are still part of everyday oral history.

On top of that, there are several other factors that affect the Navajo: Isolation, lack of basic services, a predilection among Native Americans to succumb to coronavirus, and communal living...

In a recent National Public Radio (NPR) interview, the Navajo Nation's President, Jonathan Nez, discussed the large family circles that traditionally make up local Navajo life - and how those very strengths of family bonds are attacked by the virus. He told the radio show, All Things Considered:

This monster that we call COVID-19 took advantage of our strengths. And one of our strengths here on the Navajo Nation is that we like to be in multigenerational homes. We like to be with our elders, our grandparents, our parents, our aunts and uncles. And when the virus came here onto the Navajo Nation, it took off like wildfire and many families were infected within the same household. 
-Jonathan Nez, President, Navajo Nation 
Ever since the disease came this spring, the Navajo have relentlessly tried to hold the line against coronavirus. They have instituted restrictions and mandates that are far more diligent than those of the rest of most of America. These measures have included roadblocks, mask-wearing, curfews, 57-hour weekend lockdowns,  a heightened sense of awareness, and massive testing programs. Navajo health workers have moved out of their large family homes in case they got COVID-19, so they wouldn't pass it along to their parents and grandparents. Food and water has been a priority, with younger people making sure that others get enough to eat and drink, delivering essentials by vehicle to local homes.

And now... it seems, for the moment, that the Navajo – a nation of warriors – have won their battle. The lead headline of the Navajo Times on September 8th, 2020 was:

No New Cases!

But that doesn't mean the vigilance will end soon. Four people died on September 8th, 2020 of COVID-19 in Navajo Country. The devastation has been stunning. By that date there were 527 reported Navajo deaths from the epidemic, and a total of almost 10,000 positive cases on the reservation identified since the first two cases were reported on March 17th there. The Navajo have administered almost 100,000 COVID -19 tests to date.

The virus is still there, surrounding the Navajo, and waiting for them to let down their guard.

Although there were no new cases among the Navajo in mid-September, the surrounding non-reservation area continued to flow along, with the rest of the three states that border the reservation still picking up COVID.

In only one day there were 326 new cases in Utah, 81 new cases in surrounding Arizona, and 44 in New Mexico, according to the Navajo Times.


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