Navajo Nation Declares Major Disaster Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

By Katherine Davis-Young
Published: Thursday, December 3, 2020 - 1:14pm
Updated: Thursday, December 3, 2020 - 6:16pm

navajo outbreak
Navajo Nation
COVID-19 cases on the Navajo Nation on Dec. 2, 2020.

Navajo President Jonathan Nez continues to urge Navajo Nation residents to stay home as much as possible as COVID-19 continues to spread out of control on the reservation. Nez is requesting the White House approve a major disaster declaration for the tribe. He is extending the current lockdown order and weekend curfews on the reservation.

The Nation of about 173,000 residents has confirmed more than 17,000 positive COVID-19 cases since the pandemic began. The Navajo Nation was hard-hit by infections in the spring, but recent cases have been reported in higher numbers than ever before. 

Doctors that serve the tribe say the conditions in hospitals are now worse than in the spring. Dr. Loretta Christensen with the Navajo Area Indian Health Service said in a Thursday town hall video that hospital staff is exhausted, beds are filling up, and it’s becoming harder to find hospitals elsewhere in Arizona or New Mexico that will accept patient transfers.

“We are also competing across the United States for very critical supplies that we need to take care of our patients and this has gotten to the point even that we are competing for oxygen supplies,” Christensen said.