Shiprock, Upper Fruitland remain on tribe's COVID-19 advisory list

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Shiprock and Upper Fruitland continue to land on the Navajo Nation's health advisory notice for uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.

The Feb. 22 list by the Navajo Department of Health showed 21 communities – a decrease of four from last week – and based on the number of cases from Feb. 5 to Feb. 18.

Other New Mexico communities on the list were Baca-Prewitt, Chichiltah, Church Rock, Coyote Canyon, Crownpoint, Iyanbito, Nahodishgish, Rock Springs, Tohatchi and Twin Lakes.

Communities outside the state are Birdsprings, Bodaway-Gap, Dennehotso, Leupp, Lukachukai, Nahata Dziil, St. Michaels, Tachee-Blue Gap and Tuba City.

A total of 29,551 people on the Navajo Nation have tested positive for the virus as of Feb. 22, and 1,145 people have died from the disease.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez mentioned the case tally and the death toll in remarks during an online town hall on Feb. 23.

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Residents in Upper Fruitland are reminded on Aug. 14, 2020 to protect themselves from COVID-19 by following health department recommendations to stay home.

It is nearly one year since the tribe reported its first case of COVID-19 and Nez explained that his office is organizing a memorial event to recognize that significance and to honor those who have died.

Details will be released later, and Nez added it will not take place as a large gathering due to restrictions in the public health emergency order. However, the event will livestream on social media sites.

He added that health care facilities surpassed administering 100,000 doses of COVID-19 vaccines and the new goal is to dispense 120,000 doses by the end of the month.

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A screenshot shows Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez during the online town hall about COVID-19 on Feb. 23.

"That's our new goal and I think we can achieve it by the end of this weekend," the president said.

Brian Johnson, deputy director of the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, said clinics and hospitals within the agency are organizing and scheduling vaccine clinics based on delivery of vaccines.

He explained that vaccines are shipped from various locations across the United States and arrive either directly to facilities or to a central location and are then delivered to locations.

Johnson also acknowledged public comments about ever-changing schedules for vaccine clinics.

"We have to remain flexible. We have to remain patient and, on our side, we have to do our due diligence to make sure that we're doing what we can to update everyone," he said.

The number of COVID-19 cases and COVID-related deaths are shown in a presentation by Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez during the online town hall on Feb. 23.

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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