How the Navajo Nation slowed one of the worst Covid-19 outbreaks in the U.S.

“We had a fast increase in cases … but wearing masks has flattened our numbers.”

By Lois Parshley |Vox

 
Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, left, helps distribute supplies in Arizona during the Covid-19 crisis. Nez’s leadership has been key in reducing Covid-19 transmission in the community. /Photo: Navajo Nation Office of the President and Vice President

When the Navajo Nation reported its first Covid-19 case on March 17, tribal officials quickly declared a public health emergency and a shelter-in-place order. As the virus spread, doctors scrambled to increase the reservation’s health care capacity for the sickest patients.

“We knew this was just the beginning, and we would have to be very aggressive,” says Loretta Christensen, the chief medical officer for the Navajo Area Indian Health Service.

The Navajo Nation (Dine’é in Navajo language) spans Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico, and with over 300,000 members, it’s the largest tribe in the United States. 

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