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Doctors Without Borders deploys team to Navajo Nation

Reservation has reported more COVID-19 cases per capita than any state in the U.S.
Highway 163 is empty April 23 in Oljato-Monument Valley, Utah, on the Navajo Nation. To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the Navajo Monument Valley Tribal Park is closed.

FARMINGTON – Doctors Without Borders sent teams to assist Native American communities in northwest New Mexico, as COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the area.

Doctors Without Borders, or Médecins Sans Frontières, normally sends health professionals around the world during a medical crisis, and the COVID-19 pandemic is a rare example of the international organization sending medical teams to the United States.

“Historically, the Navajo Nation has not received the same attention and resources as other communities in the U.S., and that has made it particularly difficult for them to respond to this unprecedented epidemic,” Jean Stowell, in charge of the organization’s U.S. COVID-19 response team, told CNN on Monday.

Two teams from the group are working within Native American communities in New Mexico, according to the organization. The first team deployed in mid-April to help the Pueblos, located north of Albuquerque.

A second, larger team was sent in late April to the Navajo Nation. The team of nine is expected to be deployed until at least the end of June, the organization confirmed.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Doctors Without Borders has been working with local authorities and partner organizations in the U.S. “serving vulnerable communities who often lack access to health care, including migrants and people experiencing homelessness,” according its website. The organization also established a temporary relief station in New York City during the height of its cases and assisted the community of Immokalee, Florida, in its response to the virus.

As of Sunday, the Navajo Nation had reported more COVID-19 cases per capita than any state in the U.S., based on its 2010 U.S. census count of 173,667 people living on the reservation.

On Monday, 82 new cases of COVID-19 and two more deaths were reported, according to the Navajo Department of Health, Navajo Epidemiology Center and Navajo Area Indian Health Service. The total number of positive cases on the Navajo Nation was 3,204, and there had been 102 deaths related to the novel coronavirus.

“Some states are beginning to reopen, but here on the Navajo Nation, we’re listening to the advice of our health care experts, and based on the data and the facts, we’re not ready to reopen until we see a consistent downward trend in the number of new COVID-19 cases,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said Monday. “We’re going to continue to be on the ground in our communities helping our elders and high-risk residents so they can stay home and stay safe.”

Here’s a breakdown of the 3,204 confirmed positive cases Monday on the Navajo Nation:

McKinley County, N.M.: 865 Apache County, Ariz.: 825 Navajo County, Ariz.: 665San Juan County, N.M.: 374Coconino County, Ariz.: 331San Juan County, Utah: 53Cibola County, N.M.: 36Socorro County, N.M.: 26Sandoval County, N.M.: 26Bernalillo County, N.M.: 3

lweber@durangoherald.com

McKinley County, N.M.: 865 Apache County, Ariz.: 825 Navajo County, Ariz.: 665San Juan County, N.M.: 374Coconino County, Ariz.: 331San Juan County, Utah: 53Cibola County, N.M.: 36Socorro County, N.M.: 26Sandoval County, N.M.: 26Bernalillo County, N.M.: 3

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