Family struggles with impact of coronavirus


It’s Freda Anderson’s first week at home after her job closed its doors in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. So this week she’s trying to make new dishes with her children.

Anderson has five children that are aged two to 16.

“Me and my oldest are trying out new recipes throughout this whole situation,” Anderson said in a phone interview. “So, tonight we’re going to try to make chicken alfredo. Yesterday we made posole.”

Anderson lives in a rural area, around three miles off the main road, in Mariano Lake, New Mexico. The closest grocery store to her is in Crownpoint or Gallup. A round trip to the store or pharmacy would mean over an hour of driving just to get essential items for not only her family but elders she’s connected with in her community.

“I have two ladies out in Marino Lake because they don’t have family nearby and I work like one hour in the morning, one hour in the evening just to make their food,” she said.

The Crownpoint Health Care Facility did report a positive case of Covid-19. The current number of cases on the Navajo Nation is 39, as of Tuesday evening, with most of them being in Western Agency.

As more and more restrictions are put into place affecting all areas of everyday life, families are beginning to be impacted in ways beyond just having to stay home and making sure their family members are washing their hands.

Anderson has a child with a heart condition who is supposed to be seen once a month by a doctor from UNM Children’s Hospital Heart Center based in Albuquerque. However for the past three months their appointment has been cancelled and rescheduled.

This month, the doctors were supposed to come to Rehoboth McKinley Christian Health Care Services but cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen next month,” she said. “That’s the one major concern that we’re having.”

Many hospitals have closed their outpatient clinics and have been rescheduling patients for later dates. Tsehootsooi Medical Center closed all their outpatient services and patients were told they would be rescheduled for June or July.

Another pressing issue for Anderson is their family’s finances.

“The bills are making me stress out because my husband, they cut his hours and now I’m not working,” Anderson said. “They (her employer) said they don’t know how long it’s going to take or how long the projects are going to close down. It might be two, three weeks.”

In the United States unemployment claims rose 70,000 in the week ending on March 14, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Economic Policy Institute, an independent, nonprofit think tank that researches the impact of economic trends and policies, is predicting that 3.4 million people will be filing claims for the week ending on March 21.

“Although we believe that number could be as low as 3 million or could be substantially higher,” the institute stated on their website.

Through it all Anderson is remaining hopeful during this tough time.

“I do stress out but I try to keep strong,” Anderson said. “I know there’s hope. There’s a calm after every storm and that’s what I’m focused on. I know everything’s going to be okay in the future.”

Anderson is continuing to encourage her family and community members to follow the CDC guidelines and the stay-at-home instruction issued by the governor of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham.

“Just stay at home,” Anderson said. “Check on your elders and call people and check on how everybody’s doing.”

About The Author

Pauly Denetclaw

Pauly Denetclaw is Meadow People born for Towering House People. She was raised in Manuelito and Naschitti, New Mexico. She was the co-recipient of the Native American Journalist Association's 2016 Richard LaCourse Award for Investigative Reporting. Denetclaw is currently finishing her degree in multimedia journalism from the University of New Mexico - Main. Denetclaw covers a range of topics including genetic research, education, health, social justice issues and small businesses. She loves coffee, writing and being with her family. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram. Her handle is @pdineclah


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