COVID-19 and the Crisis on Native American Reservations

During recent months, large cities across the world have become the epicenters of the COVID-19 pandemic. Densely populated neighborhoods and shared spaces make it easy for the virus to spread from person to person. It comes as no surprise that the virus has spread like wildfire in places like New York City, but it’s out in the forests and plains of the Native American reservations where death rates are soaring and a new crisis is emerging.

While most of the nation has begun to see the number of COVID-19 cases fall, cases on Native American reservations are growing steadily and there is fear that the peak of the epidemic is nowhere in sight.

Death rates from the virus are also some of the highest in the country as these communities do not have access to the resource and medical care required to fight the deadly virus.

Much of what makes the COVID-19 outbreak so devastating for tribal communities is the same thing that’s hindered them for decades. Reservations account for some of the poorest counties in the United States and many people don’t have access to basic resources like clean, running water.

The Navajo Nation recently reported that some 30% of its’ people don’t have running water in their homes — which makes washing hands and abiding by the ‘stay at home’ order all the more difficult. Overcrowding of homes is 16 times higher on reservations than anywhere else in the United States, as families huddle together to cut costs and make ends meet. These close quarters make it difficult to keep the virus from spreading, but are also the only way to survive the economic circumstances of life on the reservation.

Medical providers and hospitals are quickly becoming overwhelmed by the growing crisis. Among the lack of resources that hospitals are facing, reservations also have higher than average rates of chronic diseases and comorbidities which make contracting the coronavirus all the more serious.

As of Sunday, the Navajo Nation has reported 2,373 confirmed cases and over 70 deaths — which puts their death rate just behind states like New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

Despite the isolation and sprawling space, the virus is running rampant in our Native American communities. These people, who are often forgotten and neglected by the rest of the country, are in desperate need of help as the end of this fight is nowhere in sight.

If you’re looking to share your stimulus with those who need it the most, take the pledge at SharetheStimulus.org and consider giving to one of the following organizations who are helping bring relief to Native American communities during this time.

First Nations
NDN Collective
Partnership with Native Americans

Take the pledge to share the stimulus today!

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