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Arizona National Guard aids Navajo Nation amid COVID-19 spread

Arizona National Guard personnel prepare boxes of personal protective equipment for transport to Chinle, Ariz., April 4th, 2020 at Papago Park Military Reservation. More than 800 AZNG personnel continue to serve across the state in response to the on-going emergency. (U.S. Air National Guard Photo by Staff Sergeant Kelly Greenwell)

PHOENIX — Arizona National Guard’s state surgeon visited the Navajo Nation on Saturday, bringing with him medical supplies to help combat the spread of coronavirus in the community.

Col. Tom Leeper provided 200 pieces of personal protective equipment and met with medical professionals at a Chinle medical site to help assess how the National Guard can better support the communities within the Navajo Nation.

“They definitely are having difficulty with enough PPE,” Leeper said in a press release. “When you start conserving PPE, or rationing it at that level, then that is critical.”

As of Monday, the state health department reported 210 positive COVID-19 cases in Navajo County, the third-highest in the state. Navajo Nation spans Arizona, Utah and New Mexico.

“I’ve been in the military for almost 40 years,” Leeper said. “And I’ve never seen a need like this before. This is something new and historic.”

The trip marked the second site visit for Leeper to the Navajo Nation within the week.

On March 30, Leeper visited Tuba City. His assessment resulted in an immediate response to fill the critical shortage gap of PPE identified by an AZNG medical assessment team, the release said.

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