Navajo Nation to open more COVID-19 isolation sites as advisory notice lists 77 chapters

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

GALLUP — The Navajo Health Command Operations Center is working to increase the number of sites for isolation and alternate care sites for use by people diagnosed with COVID-19.

The center is among the entities overseeing the tribe's response to the virus that causes COVID-19 and has partnered with companies PAE and AMI Expeditionary Healthcare to set up such sites on and near the reservation, according to a Dec. 6 press release from the Office of the President and Vice President.

While there is a referral process for using the locations, each one is designed to house individuals who test positive for COVID-19 and to prevent the spread of the virus among family members, the release states.

In October, the tribe awarded a $50 million contract to PAE and AMI to operate alternate care sites and to deliver a range of clinical and logistic support services.

The Navajo Health Command Operations Center has partnered with two companies to manage an alternate care site in Chinle, Arizona to house individuals diagnosed with COVID-19. The place is like the former site in Shiprock pictured here on April 29.

PAE stands for Pacific Architects and Engineers Inc. The company is headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia. Over 65 years it has served as a defense and government services contractor.

AMI is based in Reston, Virginia, and provides medical services to private and government agencies.

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According to the president's office release, the partnership has established an alternate care site in Chinle, Arizona and sites for isolation in hotels in Farmington and Gallup.  It will open additional sites in Tuba City and Holbrook, both in Arizona.

People who need to quarantine while waiting for test results may be referred to use the hotels, the release states.

A connection for oxygen therapy is pictured on April 29 inside a room at the former alternate care site in Shiprock. The Navajo Health Command Operations Center has partnered with two companies to manage a similar site in Chinle, Arizona to house individuals diagnosed with COVID-19.

"Each isolation hotel site provides clinical observation and monitoring for positive COVID-19 individuals. Individuals in need of acute care and do not require intensive medical care will be cared for at the Chinle Alternate Care Site by doctors and nurses," the release states.

In addition to setting up these sites, PAE was tasked with deploying mobile testing teams.

The release states that the Navajo Department of Health will have free COVID-19 testing this month. Locally, testing will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursdays at the Shiprock Chapter House.

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The health department released the latest health advisory notice for uncontrolled spread of the virus.

There are 77 chapters on the Dec. 7 advisory, which uses data from new cases dated between Nov. 20 to Dec. 3.

New to the list are the chapters of Becenti, Black Mesa, Fort Defiance, Littlewater, Nahodishgish and Red Mesa.

The staff entrance to the former alternate care site in Shiprock is pictured on May 27. The Navajo Health Command Operations Center has partnered with two companies to manage a similar site in Chinle, Arizona.

Chapters in New Mexico on the list are Alamo, Baca-Prewitt, Bread Springs, Chichiltah, Church Rock, Coyote Canyon, Crownpoint, Hogback, Iyanbito, Lake Valley, Manuelito, Mexican Springs, Nageezi, Naschitti, Nenahnezad, Newcomb, Pinedale, Ramah, Red Lake, Rock Springs, San Juan, Sanostee, Sheep Springs, Shiprock, Smith Lake, Standing Rock, Thoreau, Tóhajiilee, Tohatchi, Tsayatoh, Twin Lakes, Two Grey Hills, Upper Fruitland and Whitehorse Lake.

Those located outside the state are Aneth, Birdsprings, Bodaway-Gap, Cameron, Chinle, Coalmine Mesa, Coppermine, Dennehotso, Dilkon, Ganado, Houck, Indian Wells, Jeddito, Kaibeto, Kayenta, Leupp, Lukachukai, Lupton, Many Farms, Nahata Dziil, Nazlini, Oak Springs, Oljato, Piñon, Rock Point, Rough Rock, Round Rock, St. Michaels, Tachee-Blue Gap, Teec Nos Pos, Teesto, Tolani Lake, Tonalea, Tsaile-Wheatfields, Tselani-Cottonwood, Tuba City and White Cone.

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

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