President of the Navajo Nation discusses COVID impact, protocol in community

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President Jonathan Nez of the Navajo Nation says they have kept the original CDC guidelines throughout the pandemic.

Even though they are experiencing a surge in COVID numbers like the rest of the country, not many people are ending up in the hospital, President Nez said.

“And I truly believe it’s because of our high vaccination rate,” President Nez said.

Most of the people who are ending up in the hospital are unvaccinated, he said.

Of the population, 72.9 percent of Navajo citizens 12 years and older, and 87 percent of Navajo citizens 65 and older are fully vaccinated.

They have been monitoring the surge but are not closing government or businesses at this time, President Nez said.

“We are keeping the Navajo Nation open,” he said.

The Navajo Nation received free test kits from the state, but an issue arising is that multiple generations are living under the same roof. Because family members are sharing PO Box numbers, not everyone is qualifying for the free test kits, President Nez said.

President Nez said they had a demonstration with a drone simulating supply deliveries to the Navajo Nation. There are no drone-flying test kits yet, he said, but “the opportunity is there with the technology.” They have been partnering up with Navajo businesses to see if they are able to do deliveries with drones, President Nez said.

The masking requirement in the Navajo Nation has remained in place for the entirety of the pandemic. He said they have always kept the protocols in place that were originally recommended by the CDC.

“We have mandated our Navajo Nation employees, Navajo Nation government workers to get their third shot. Today is actually the deadline,” President Nez said. They are redefining what ‘fully vaccinated’ means, and for the Navajo Nation that now includes the booster, he said.

President Jonathan Nez, Navajo Nation

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