New York may be the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis, but it was in Navajo Nation, the country’s largest Native American reserve, that the highest levels of infection were recorded. If we take the data from the total population, then the COVID-19 test of every 42nd inhabitant of the Navajo Nation has given a positive result. By comparison, in New York State, the disease is found in every 54th person.
MSNBC correspondent Von Hilliard is already in Arizona, Navajo County, south of the Utah border. He will tell us details of this important story.
Vaughn, nice to see you. Tell us more about it. Is there an explanation why such a high level of infection has been registered?
VON HILLIARD MSNBC correspondent: Of course, Aymen. To give you an idea of what is happening, I will say: we are talking about the Navajo Nation, an area that is larger than 10 US states. About 160 thousand people live here. The Navajo Indians live in this vast territory.
And going back to your question: why is the frequency of infection so high here? When you visit the local communities … And we will show you a specific place – Chinli. So there is only one grocery store in Chinley. And here live about 5 thousand people, most of whom live near the central area of this city. And then, on closer inspection, it becomes clear that people come to town and buy at a grocery store.
It is also very common for whole families to live when several generations live in the same house. I discussed this with Cherish Redhouse. She told me, “The nearest Walmart is two hours from where we live.”
Another problem is the availability of water.
The Navajo say 40 to 80 percent of the people living in this tribal area do not have access to tap water. Despite years of pleas and appeals to Washington for help, the situation has not changed in terms of bathing and hand washing, nor in terms of ordinary consumption. In the territory of this tribe this is a problem.
I have already told you about Cherish Redhouse and I would like to introduce you to her. She was born near Chinley and grew up here. For more than a year, she worked as an administrative coordinator at the Johns Hopkins University Center for American Indian Health. It is working to make life easier for the inhabitants of this vast territory.
I would like to show you … Yesterday we met her when she was dealing with delivery and we visited a woman who was the driver of her school bus.
Here, people are still urged to observe curfew and self-isolation over the weekend. I’d like you to hear Cherish talking to the former driver of her school bus.
CHERISH REDHOUSE, coordinator of the Johns Hopkins University Center for American Indian Health: Tshe took care of me when I was little. And so we went through a full circle and now we can help each other … He (the husband – InoTV) swas busy with construction, and I took care of delivery. We have two children watching everything that happens. And the time will come when they will tell their children about their lives and say, “My parents at that time helped everyone who lived in our area. They helped and participated.” They will know what we are doing for what we are doing.
VON HILLIARD: Aymen, Cherish and the rest of the locals will say, “You know, we are adamant people. We are a strong population. We do our best to take care of our families and our communities.
Translation: M. Zhelyazkova
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