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Virus cases near 3,000 with 98 deaths

WINDOW ROCK

The number of COVID-19 positive tests continue to surge as of Saturday with 2,973 cases with 98 deaths.

Friday had the most increases in 24 hours for both cases and deaths, showing 119 new cases and 8 deaths.

For over a month as the numbers continued to rise, the Navajo Nation has battled the virus using its own resources and donations from all over the world as it waited for a portion of the $8 billion from the CARES Act.

Finally on Tuesday, the Navajo Nation and other tribes received $600 million in CARES Act funds. The Navajo controller’s office reported on Wednesday the funds had been received and by Thursday the Navajo Nation Council dropped a bill to establish a framework for expenditure.

But the question remains of how these dollars will be spent, which must happen by a deadline of Dec. 30.

President Jonathan Nez on Friday emphasized the monies would go specifically to COVID-19 efforts and they’ve gathered information from nurses, doctors, first responders, and citizens over the weeks of what is needed.

“We know there is need for more testing, data gathering, more dollars to epidemiology team to answer many of your questions,” Nez said at a press conference on Friday. “What are the next steps if there is a second wave?”

The lack of access to water has been brought into the spotlight during the pandemic. This critical need has been ongoing for decades. And since washing hands and hygiene are vital, getting running water to Navajo families is a top priority for the $600 million.

Multi-generational living conditions were another factor listed as a reason behind the increase of COVID-19 cases. Nez said they can address this with housing manufacturing facilities.

Agriculture and broadband and telecommunication are other needs, especially with students using Wi-Fi for classes since schools have been cancelled for the remaining of the school year, said Nez.

“Our students are going to areas where there is Internet access,” said Nez. “We have a shelter-in-place order. We are telling out people to stay home, but our students need to turn in their assignments.”



About The Author

Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti reports on Navajo Nation Council and Office of the President and Vice President. Her clans are Nát'oh dine'é Táchii'nii, Bit'ahnii, Kin łichii'nii, Kiyaa'áanii. She’s originally from Fort Defiance and has a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. Before working for the Navajo Times she was a reporter for the Gallup Independent. She can be reached at abecenti@navajotimes.com. Follow her on Twitter at @abecenti

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