Navajo Nation receives federal medical aid to help fight COVID-19 surge

Dec 17, 2020, 9:00 AM | Updated: 11:52 am
(Courtesy photo/Navajo Nation)...
(Courtesy photo/Navajo Nation)
(Courtesy photo/Navajo Nation)

PHOENIX — Federal medical personnel are deploying to Navajo Nation health care facilities this week to provide relief and resources for health care workers in the fight against the coronavirus, according to a press release Wednesday.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez in the release said the deployment is great news for health care workers with a recent large sarge in coronavirus cases that led to a crisis situation in health care facilities.

“Many of our health care workers are exhausted and we are also concerned about their mental health at this time due to the overwhelming circumstances they are working under,” Nez said. “The deployment of the medical personnel from the U.S. Departments of Defense and Health and Human Services is greatly appreciated.

“Relief is on its way,” Nez said.

As part of an official request from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Navajo Nation leaders, 25 U.S. Navy medical personnel, part of four response teams, will support the Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock, N.M., and the Chinle Comprehensive Healthcare Facility.

The Navajo Nation reported 160 new coronavirus cases and four new deaths on Wednesday, bringing the documented totals to 20,095 infections and 731 fatalities.

The Navajo Nation received additional relief on Tuesday when the first 3,900 doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine were distributed to front line health care workers, emergency medical staff, traditional practitioners working in Indian Health Service facilities and staff and patients in long-term nursing facilities.

Another 7,900 doses are expected to arrive next week.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services also recently deployed 30 health personnel to the Crownpoint Health Care Facility and Gallup Indian Medical Center in Gallup, N.M., which serves a population of 20,000 Navajo people.

“Our commitment to support the whole-of-America response to the COVID-19 pandemic remains strong,” Lt. Gen. Laura J. Richardson, U.S. Army North commander, said in the release.

“We consider this obligation sacred, and will work tirelessly to alleviate the burden of the coronavirus on the Navajo Nation as we have elsewhere.”

In a further effort to stop the spread of coronavirus, the Navajo Nation is under a stay-at-home order through Dec. 28.

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Navajo Nation receives federal medical aid to help fight COVID-19 surge