Wednesday, September 16, 2020

Navajo leader says the key to slowing the coronavirus in his community was listening to public health officials

"Earlier this year, the Navajo Nation Reservation was a major hot spot for coronavirus cases. Now, it's seen a day without a single positive case," Sacha Pfeiffer reports for NPR. "It's a turning point in its battle against the virus. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez attributes that to Navajo leaders and citizens heeding the advice of public health officials."

Nez said that Navajo leaders not only accepted recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health, but that they also elevated them into law by making them public health emergency orders, Pfeiffer reports. Further, Navajo leaders have required residents to wear masks since mid-April, and have limited outside visitors via roadblocks. 

The Navajo have also aggressively tested residents: 99,000 people on the reservation, more than 50 percent of its population, have been tested for the novel coronavirus, with about 10,000 positive results, Pfeiffer reports. They have also hired contract tracers and people who have been infected or are at high risk voluntarily quarantine themselves for the good of the community, Nez said.

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