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Utah-based group aims to help Navajo Nation deal with the COVID-19 pandemic

(Photo credit: Getty Images)

NAVAJO NATION, Utah – The Navajo Nation has the highest rate of COVID-19 infections per capita in the United States. Now one Utah-based group is trying to help the tribe overcome the crisis. 

Heather Tanana is a research law professor at the University of Utah who is helping start the group Utah Tribal COVID-19 Relief.  

She told KSL News Radio’s Live Mic with Lee Lonsberry that the group is gathering donations of needed items, like hand sanitizer, as well as monetary donations to help the tribe. 

Tanana thinks one of the problems the Navajo face is their chronically underfunded healthcare system.

The services that they [do] have down there, their baseline is much lower than other communities. It’s going to take some time, and whether they can get to the level of meeting all the needs, that’s questionable given that they had a lower baseline to begin with,” Tanana said. 

Multi-generational homes, the Navajo Nation, and COVID-19

Healthcare analysts have pointed out that members of the Navajo Nation are also more likely to live in multi-generational housing without running water, which may be why they have more COVID-19 cases than other places. 

Tanana thinks it’s been hard for the Navajo to have so many of their businesses closed due to COVID-19 restrictions. The Navajo Nation also received its federal stimulus money later than others. 

“There are certain requirements and guidelines they have to follow to use that money. They can’t just suddenly dedicate a portion of it…[to] bring water into homes. Yes, they have funds, but the need for help is still there,” Tanana said.   

Utah Tribal COVID-19 Relief also will do pro bono legal work, helping tribal members with everything from accessing their unemployment benefits to escaping abusive situations.

Ogden’s Own Distillery is also helping the tribe. It announced it is sending 485 gallons of its Five Wives Hand Sanitizer to the Navajo Nation. 

 

How To Prevent the Spread of COVID-19Coronavirus

COVID-19 coronavirus is transmitted from person to person. It is a virus that is similar to the common cold and the flu. So, to prevent it from spreading:

  • Wash hands frequently and thoroughly, with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds.
  • Don’t touch your face.
  • Keep children and those with compromised immune systems away from someone who is coughing or sneezing (in this instance, at least six feet)
  • If there is an outbreak near you, practice social distancing (stay at home, instead of going to the movies, sports events, or other activities.)
  • Get a flu shot.

Local resources

KSL Coronavirus Q&A

Utah’s Coronavirus Information

UtahState Board of Education

Utah Hospital Association

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

Utah Coronavirus Information Line – 1-800-456-7707

National Resources

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Commonly asked questions, World Health Organization

Cases in the United States

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