The deadly coronavirus outbreak continues to tighten its grip around the world including Navajo Nation on the western part of the United States which has witnessed a sudden hike in confirmed cases of COVID-19. This has further caused tensions among religious leaders who think the tribal lands are not well-equipped to contain the drastic spread of the pandemic while the federal government is sluggish in its response. According to international reports, while the global death toll has crossed 53,000, Navajo Nation Department of Health and Navajo Area Indian Health Service reported 174 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on April 1. This was after the authorities had recorded 49 cases just a week ago.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham not only reportedly said that she was “very worried” about the drastic increase in COVID-19 in a call with US President Donald Trump but also told an international media outlet that the pandemic “could wipe out those tribal nations”. In a bid to stem the fatal pathogen’s spread, even though the government has closed the Grand Canyon, officials still worry that the coronavirus outbreak is life-threatening for the Indigenous people. The Navajo Nation extends into the states of Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico and a tribal government was established only in 1923.
Some media reports have also suggested that police officials have been enforcing curfews, driving through Navajo communities, asking drivers and even using telecoms to inform the Tuba City and Arizona residents that a lockdown has been in effect in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Meanwhile, a curfew in the Navajo Nation is being termed as essential by both health and tribal officials but it has the potential to further pose challenges on Navajo citizens on tribal lands as it reportedly has only 13 full-service supermarkets.
The coronavirus, which originated in China in December 2019, has now claimed over 53,238 lives worldwide as of April 3. According to the tally by international news agency, the pandemic has now spread to 204 countries and has infected at least 1,016,395 people. Out of the total infections, 213,133 have been recovered but the easily spread virus is continuing to disrupt many lives. Major cities have been put under lockdown in almost all countries and the economy is struggling.