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Doctors Without Borders Send COVID-19 Team to Navajo Nation

Doctors Without Borders typically go to third world countries to help people in dire need of medical help. Today, as the world battles the coronavirus, one of the most vulnerable communities that are under attack by COVID-19 is the Navajo Nation right here at home. So it makes perfect sense that this susceptible group is now getting help from this international organization. 

NPR reports that so far, 100 people from the Navajo Nation have died from COVID-19, while another 3,122 people have tested positive. That might not seem like a large number of people when compared to the overall devastating in the U.S., which has now claimed the lives of more than 80,000 people. However, the Navajo Nation — a tribe that is one of the first Native Americans on this soil — is already a group that is diminishing, and the coronavirus is spreading fast among this community. 

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SUPER STOKED AND PROUD TO DELIVER @mananalu.water Last week we sent a full truckload (20,000 cans) of Mananalu water to the Navajo Nation. My water company is still small but I’m doing what I can to help those that need it the most MAHALO NUI @theellenshow for helping us spread the aloha Thanks to the Navajo and Hopi Families COVID-19 Relief campaign (@navajohopicovid19relief) for helping us distribute our water to the families. This is a grassroots effort led by a group of Navajo women who work 14 hours a day with no pay in order to raise funds and support for Navajo families in need during this terrible pandemic. That’s amazing. • Native American tribes are among the highest risk communities during the corona virus pandemic, and a lot of them haven’t gotten the resources they need to fight the virus. This includes medical equipment and basic goods like food and clean water • About 40% of the residents live in rural areas and have little to no access to running water • They’re literally living in a “food desert” with very few grocery stores and the land is very spread out. Many families have to travel several miles just to haul water. FILM COMING SOON BY @deidrapeaches on our youtube channel. #mananalu.water #navajonation. ALOHA J

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Doctors Without Borders sent a group of nine doctors to this area, where, as CBS News reports, already has a team that “consists of two physicians, three nurse/midwives, a water sanitation specialist, two logisticians and a health promoter who specializes in community health education.” USA Today reports that the Navajo Nation has “250,000 members and spans over 27,000 square miles across three states — northern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico and southern Utah.” 

“There are many situations in which we do not intervene in the United States, but this has a particular risk profile,” Jean Stowell, head of the organization’s U.S. COVID-19 Response Team, said to CBS News. “Situationally, the Native American communities are at a much higher risk for complications from COVID-19 and also from community spread because they don’t have access to the variety of things that make it possible to self-isolate…You can’t expect people to isolate if they have to drive 100 miles to get food and water.” 

Celebrities, including Sean Penn, Jason Momoa, Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi, have all contributed to helping support the Navajo Nation by sending good and sending financial help.

While this virus is killing so many, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said this poignant reminder about the strength of its people, “Look at what happened to us as a people,” Nez said in a recent interview with NPR. “We were taken out to Fort Sumner during the Long Walk. We almost got annihilated as a people. We persevered. We’re utilizing our own resources. We’re utilizing our own teachings and we’re going to overcome this.”