TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Back in December 2020, Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly wrote to former President Donald Trump asking for support to the Navajo Nation due to the effects of COVID-19. This after Najavo Nation President Jonathan Nez declared a public health emergency in March, before any COVID-19 cases had been confirmed.
That emergency declaration was approved by the Biden administration on Feb. 9, 2021. This will allow the Navajo Nation to access additional resources to combat the spread of COVID-19 in its community.
“I am pleased the administration took swift action on behalf of the Navajo Nation. Approving a Major Disaster Declaration will help save lives and livelihoods—and ensure the Nation can access critical resources to combat and reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Sinema.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Indians [and Alaska natives] are disproportionately more at risk of developing more serious complications to COVID-19 due to ‘health and socio-economic disparities’.
And despite precautions by Navajo leaders to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, the community has over 28,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and more than 1,000 deaths. Officals say hospitals in the Navajo Nation are operating at capacity levels, greater than their previous peak in May 2020.
“The Navajo Nation has been resilient in the face of the pandemic, and has battled the virus with too little help from the federal government. This much-needed declaration from the administration will get the Navajo Nation additional funding and flexibility to address the spread of COVID-19 and begin to recover,” said Kelly.