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Navajo Nation uses coronavirus relief to expand internet access

(Courtesy photo/The Navajo Nation)

PHOENIX — The Navajo Nation on Thursday marked the completion of new telecommunication equipment that will enhance internet access to the Chinle and Tsaile/Wheatfields area.

Funding from the project came from a $32 million Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act allocation, according to a press release, which is being used to construct several more towers across the Navajo Nation.

“These projects will provide long-term benefits to help families, students of all ages with online learning, first responders during emergency situations, businesses, and many others,” Jonathan Nez, Navajo Nation president, said in the release.

The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority and other partners are expediting the projects to meet the CARES Act deadline, according to the release.

“When we work together from the local level on up, (Navajo Tribal Utility Authority) has shown that projects can be expedited and completed quickly,” Nez said. “I commend the (Navajo Tribal Utility Authority) work crews and management for their tremendous work to make positive changes in our communities.”

An additional $15 million in CARES Act funds, approved on Oct. 9, will provide more internet access that will benefit Navajo students attending Diné College and Navajo Technical University that have campuses in the area, according to the release.

Along with broadband expansion projects, Nez says the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority has connected nearly 350 families to the electric grid and is developing additional water resources and infrastructure during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Navajo Nation on Friday reported 97 new coronavirus cases and 2 deaths, bringing the documented totals to 13,069 infections and 598 deaths.

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