White Mountain Apache Tribe Fears 2nd COVID-19 Wave

By Laurel Morales
Published: Tuesday, November 17, 2020 - 4:01pm
Updated: Monday, March 22, 2021 - 11:33am

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White Mountain Apache Tribe
White Mountain Apache Tribe
White Mountain Apache Chairwoman Gwendena Lee-Gatewood talks to Derrick Leslie about the rising number of coronavirus cases.

The White Mountain Apache Tribe fears a second wave of COVID-19 cases. Nearly 2,800 people have tested positive. More than 20% of the small eastern Arizona tribe have contracted the virus. Most have recovered but 42 people have died. 

Derrick Leslie, a spokesman for the tribe’s Emergency Operations Center, told a Facebook Live event case numbers and hospitalizations are ramping up again.

“It’s unnerving but that’s the reality that we face here on the reservation. A lot of it has to do with gatherings — religious gatherings, you know family parties, birthday celebrations, a couple clusters have been tracked to work gatherings,” Leslie said.

The tribe is dealing with water shortages, lack of internet access and multiple generations living under one roof.

Chairwoman Gwendena Lee-Gatewood told people to stock up on water and firewood to prepare for another potential lockdown.

“You should always be prepared,” Lee-Gatewood said. “That’s been the teachings of our ancestors and elders for quite a long time. We just have to get in the practice of doing that.”

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