President Nez declared a public health emergency in response to the pandemic on March 11 before a single case was confirmed in the Nation. Despite proactive precautions, the Navajo Nation has confirmed over 28,000 COVID-19 infections and more than 1,000 deaths. Navajo Nation hospitals are operating at capacity levels greater than their previous peak in May. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that American Indians and Alaska Natives are at a disproportionate risk for complications from COVID-19, due to health and socioeconomic disparities for these communities.
Following the support of Arizona Senators Kyrsten Sinema and Mark Kelly and Arizona Representatives Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-02), Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Andy Biggs (AZ-05), David Schweikert (AZ-06), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), Debbie Lesko (AZ-08), and Greg Stanton (AZ-09), the administration approved Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez’s request for a Major Disaster Declaration from the federal government, which will allow the Nation to access additional resources to combat the coronavirus pandemic.
“I am pleased the administration took swift action on behalf of the Navajo Nation. Approving a Major Disaster Declaration will help save lives and livelihoods—and ensure the Nationcan access critical resources to combat and reduce the spread of COVID-19,” said Sinema.
“The Navajo Nation has been resilient in the face of the pandemic, and has battled the virus with too little help from the federal government. This much-needed declaration from the administration will get the Navajo Nation additional funding and flexibility to address the spread of COVID-19 and begin to recover,” said Kelly.
Read the Delegation’s original request HERE.