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Fewer communities with 'uncontrolled spread' in Navajo Nation's COVID-19 advisory roster

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The number of Navajo Nation communities named in a Jan. 25 health advisory notice as having uncontrolled spread of COVID-19 declined substantially this week compared to last week.

The news came as Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock began scheduling people who already had their first COVID-19 vaccination for their second vaccination.

The Navajo Department of Health identified 53 communities, each determined by the number of cases from Jan. 8 to Jan. 21.

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That is a decrease of 22 communities since the last report was released on Jan. 19. Health officials for the tribe have reported that recent data shows the number of new infections is lowering.

A sign outside Northern Navajo Medical Center in Shiprock directs people experiencing COVID-19 symptoms on where to go on March 24, 2020.

Communities on the list from the Northern Agency in San Juan County are Naschitti, Newcomb, Sheep Springs, Shiprock and Upper Fruitland.

Other New Mexico communities listed are Alamo, Baca-Prewitt, Breadsprings, Casamero Lake, Chichiltah, Church Rock, Coyote Canyon, Crownpoint, Iyanbito, Mariano Lake, Nahodishgish, Pinedale, Red Rock, Rock Springs, Smith Lake, Standing Rock, Thoreau, Tóhajiilee, Tohatchi, Tsayatoh and Twin Lakes.

The listing includes these communities in Arizona or Utah: Birdsprings, Black Mesa, Cameron, Chinle, Dennehotso, Ganado, Indian Wells, Jeddito, Kaibeto, Kayenta, Lukachukai, Many Farms, Nahata Dziil, Nazlini, Piñon, Red Valley, Rock Point, Shonto, St. Michaels, Tachee-Blue Gap, Teec Nos Pos, Teesto, Tonalea, Tsaile-Wheatfields, Tselani-Cottonwood, Tuba City and Whippoorwill.

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Artwork on a building in Shiprock warns community members about COVID-19 on March 24, 2020.

Booster vaccine shots begin

Northern Navajo Medical Center is beginning to administer booster shots of the COVID-19 vaccine to individuals who received the first dose this month.

According to an update on the Shiprock Indian Health Service Facebook page, more than 2,000 people received the first dose during drive-thru vaccine clinics at the Shiprock Chapter house on Jan. 6 and at the Nenahnezad Chapter house on Jan. 7.

The hospital has been contacting those individuals with instructions to receive their second dose – or booster shot – at Shiprock High School from Jan. 26 through Jan. 28.

The morning session starts at 9 a.m. followed by an afternoon session beginning at 1 p.m., according to the update.

The update notes that, "all of the patients were initially told to come back to Shiprock Chapter on Jan. 27, but with the large numbers of vaccinations, we want to spread out the booster (second) shots over the three days and move to a larger space."

Vaccine recipients must prepare for long wait times and are asked to bring their vaccination record card, identification and a pen.

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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