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Navajo Nation health department director joins Biden-Harris COVID-19 advisory board

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The director of the Navajo Department of Health is among three new additions to President-elect Joe Biden's Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board.

Jill Jim was named to a panel of public health experts who are helping Biden, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and their transition team prepare the incoming administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic.

"The board is one component of the president-elect's and transition's consultations as they develop implementation plans for day one," the Nov. 28 press release from the Biden-Harris transition team states.

In the months since the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed on the Navajo Nation, Jim has been among the tribe's leadership addressing the new virus. The tribe has 16,427 cases as of Nov. 29.

Jill Jim

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"I am proud to serve as a member of the Biden-Harris Transition COVID-19 Advisory Board. I look forward to working with fellow members of the advisory board to help prepare an urgent, robust and professional response to the global public health crisis, for President-elect Biden to lead with on day one," Jim said in a press release from the tribe's Office of the President and Vice President.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer appointed Jim in January 2019 and she was confirmed by the Navajo Nation Council in April 2019.

According to the Biden-Harris transition team, Jim has 18 years of experience working in urban and tribal communities in non-profit, state and federal agencies.

She has a doctorate in public health and two master's degrees in public health and in healthcare administration, all from the University of Utah.

Jim, who is originally from Navajo Mountain, Utah, and speaks the Navajo language fluently, earned a bachelor's degree in health sciences from Northern Arizona University.

President Nez commended Jim's appointment, which he recommended, in the release from his office.

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"Dr. Jim's extensive public health experience and expertise has been a major benefit for the Navajo Nation throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and now she will serve on a much broader level to help fight this modern-day monster throughout the country," Nez said.

A screenshot shows Jill Jim, director of the Navajo Department of Health, talking on Nov. 17 about rising coronavirus infections on the Navajo Nation.

Also appointed to the advisory board are Jane Hopkins, a nurse in Seattle who specializes in mental health and serves on Washington state's COVID task force, and David Michaels, an epidemiologist and professor of environmental and occupational health at George Washington University School of Public Health in Washington, D.C., according to the Biden-Harris transition team release.

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"As COVID-19 surges across the country, I need a team advising me and a transition that offers diverse perspectives and viewpoints. Ms. Hopkins, Dr. Jim and Dr. Michaels will strengthen the board's work and help ensure that our COVID-19 planning will address inequities in health outcomes and the workforce," Biden said in the release.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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