30 communities under advisory for high risk of COVID-19 transmission

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — The number of Navajo communities under a health advisory notice for high risk of COVID-19 transmission decreased to 30 this week, a decline of eight from last week.

The Navajo Department of Health placed the communities on notice based on confirmed cases from Dec. 10 to Dec. 23.

Hogback, Nenahnezad, Sanostee, Shiprock and Two Grey Hills are some of the local communities on the notice.

Other communities in New Mexico are Breadsprings, Casamero Lake, Chichiltah, Crownpoint, Pinedale, Rock Springs, Thoreau and Tohatchi.

Those in Arizona or in Utah are Cameron, Chinle, Ganado, Indian Wells, Jeddito, Kaibeto, Kayenta, Leupp, Low Mountain, Many Farms, Piñon, Red Mesa, St. Michaels, Tachee-Blue Gap, Tsaile-Wheatfields, Tselani-Cottonwood and Tuba City.

"Previously, there were 38. Though we did go down by eight this time around, so it's a good sign too," Del Yazzie, epidemiologist with the Navajo Epidemiology Center, said on Dec. 28 during the weekly update about COVID-19 by officials and health experts.

Navajo Nation

A chapter can remain under advisory until risk and cases decline, according to the health department.

Health experts explained that the Navajo Nation does not have any confirmed cases of the Omicron variant, which is more contagious than previous strains of COVID-19.

Dr. Amanda Burrage, pediatrician with Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation in Arizona, is among the health experts who have been helping with the tribe's response to the pandemic.

Burrage said local hospitals have seen an increase in new cases since the end of last week, but the hope is that with more people vaccinated, severe illness and hospitalizations will be less than during past surges.

The first cases of COVID-19 were reported in late December 2019 in Wuhan, China.

With the pandemic entering a third year, Burrage said that prevention measures remain the same with wearing face masks, maintaining distance when around others and undergo testing if you are exposed to COVID-19 or develop symptoms.

Masks remain important because COVID-19 is transmitted by aerials and droplets sent by particles through the air, Burrage said.

"Masking is really the best way to protect yourself," she said. "I think what’s important to emphasize is well-fitted masks at this point. Make sure that your mask that you're wearing fits well over your nose and mouth."

She added that the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends double masking.

One way to achieve this is wearing a surgical mask underneath a cloth mask, she explained.

Health experts also recommended getting fully vaccinated and receiving booster shots when eligible.

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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