Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

April 20, 2020

New Mexico Town Hall: More than one-third of coronavirus cases are Native Americans

New Mexico's Tribal Communities and COVID-19: A Virtual Town Hall

Article by Brenda Norrell
Censored News

The New Mexico's Tribal Communities Town Hall highlighted the needs of health care, and the economic losses for Pueblos, as the coronavirus spreads through communities.

Broadcasting from the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, host Conroy Chino, Acoma Pueblo, said Native American cases of coronavirus make up 37 percent of the coronavirus cases in New Mexico, even though Native people total only 10 percent of the population. Most of the cases are in the northwest corner of the state.

Navajo President Jonathan Nez said the health care system across the country needs to be improved. Thanking the doctors, nurses and first responders, President Nez said this crisis has highlighted the underfunding of Indian Health Service.

"This is a public health emergency," President Nez said. 

Chino said his son is a surgeon working triage at Tuba City Indian Medical Center.

The closure of casinos has resulted in enormous economic losses for Native people and the state of New Mexico.

Laguna Pueblo Gov. Willfred Herrera, Jr., said Pueblos businesses have contributed financially to the State of New Mexico. The Pueblo casinos and businesses generated $608 million in revenues in the state, with 11,500 jobs in 2018. Herrera serves as the Vice-Chair of the All Indian Pueblo Council of Governors.

U.S. Rep. Deb Haaland, D-N.M., reported on the efforts made in Congress, including new efforts for expanded broadband in New Mexico.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and New Mexico Indian Affairs Dept. Secretary Lynn Trujillo described the efforts underway. Watch the video below as community members share their messages.

In related news, Monday, April 20. New Mexico reports another death in San Juan County, where Shiprock is located on the Navajo Nation. There have been 15 deaths from coronavirus here. 

There have been five deaths in McKinley County, which includes Gallup, portions of the Navajo Nation and Zuni Pueblo. 

The New Mexico website shows the zipcode area for Zia Pueblo, San Luis and San Ysidro has 82 cases of coronavirus.

Currently, there are more than 1,000 cases of coronavirus on the Navajo Nation, with 44 deaths reported. 

Watch New Mexico Town Hall on YouTube
COVID-19 is hitting New Mexico's tribal communities hard, and accurate information is more important than ever. Sunday, April 19 at 6 p.m., NMPBS presents New Mexico's Tribal Communities and COVID-19: A Virtual Town Hall - featuring both state and tribal officials. Acoma Pueblo member Conroy Chino moderates.

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