Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

November 27, 2020

Navajo Council recognizes frontline workers, as virus cases spike to 226 on Thursday, Nov . 26

PHOTO: Public health messages across the Navajo Nation emphasize social distancing, as seen on this community billboard. The public is asked to follow public health orders and to follow CDC guidelines.

In recognition of the Navajo Nation’s first responders and front-line workers, Council asks all to follow public health orders and guidelines

By Navajo Nation Council
Nov. 26, 2020

WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — As the country observes the national holiday, the 24th Navajo Nation Council encourages all members of the Navajo Nation to express their appreciation to health care workers, police officers, firefighters, facilities staff, first responders and essential front-line workers for their continuing service during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. The public is asked to be vigilant in protecting against the further spread of the virus.

“Through following the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines and abiding by the recommendations of our health care professionals, we can reduce the spread of the virus that causes Covid-19. This is critical during and after this Thanksgiving holiday. We know many are of our most essential workers have worked tirelessly to address this pandemic for months on-end. The Council expresses its appreciation and gratitude to our hard workers and it is with them in minds and hearts that we ask the Navajo people to mask-up, practice social distancing, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds and reduce travel,” said Speaker Seth Damon.

On Thursday, the Navajo Epidemiology Center reported 226 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 on the Navajo Nation compared to 121 confirmed cases on Monday. A total of 15,862 cases have been confirmed positive through a total 154,384 Covid-19 tests completed. 8,606 cases were reported to have recovered. A total 645 mortalities related to Covid-19 have occurred.

“The Council has extended well-deserved recognition to the Navajo Nation’s first responders who have sacrificed their time, health and, in some cases, their lives to keep our people safe from the most drastic effects of this pandemic,” said Speaker Damon. “Today, and in the days and weeks that follow the holiday, we have to do more, individually, to reduce the risk of spread. We can help those on the front lines by taking these proven steps to reduce the chances this deadly virus overloads our health care facilities.”

On Wednesday, the Health, Education, and Human Services Committee of the 24th Navajo Nation Council heard from the Indian Health Service (IHS) updates on the rising number of Covid-19 cases and potential vaccines.

“You see the counties in New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Colorado, most of them are red,” said Dr. Thiery Va, referencing the national risk map for Covid-19 infection by county. On the Navajo Nation, Dr. Va stated: “We know at this point that between 638 facilities and IHS facilities, they are reaching crisis capacity. Our staffed beds are getting full.

Dr. Jill Moses stressed the importance of answering calls from public health workers who are performing contact tracing work after an individual has been confirmed positive with Covid-19. “There are places and some individuals that are reluctant to share information with the public health team when they call to do their contact tracing work. A contact tracing is really a key piece for protecting families in the community. It’s done in a way that protects confidentiality.”

Chief Medical Officer Dr. Loretta Christiansen provided additional guidance that all members of the public should receive flu vaccinations by December 15. Although no Covid-19 vaccine has been approved for distribution by the federal government, IHS recommends not overlapping the two vaccinations in the same 14-day period.

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