COVID-19 death toll rises in Navajo Nation

COVID-19 death toll rises in Navajo Nation
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The Navajo Nation on Tuesday reported seven new coronavirus-related deaths, bringing the total death toll for the reservation to 755 since the pandemic first hit the country earlier this year. 

The Navajo Department of Health also recorded 151 newly confirmed cases Tuesday for the tribe that extends over parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. The Native American nation has had a total of 21,327 confirmed COVID-19 infections.

This comes after the Navajo Nation earlier this month extended its stay-at-home order for three additional weeks. The mandate was initially issued on Nov. 13 and intended to last until Dec. 6, but it will now continue until Dec. 28.

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The Dec. 3 order extension included limiting contact to people in residents’ individual households and only allowing people to leave their homes for essential activities, such as grocery shopping or traveling to an essential job. 

“The Navajo Nation is experiencing an alarming rise in positive COVID-19 cases and uncontrolled spread in 75 communities across the Navajo Nation,” the public health order read. “These cluster cases are a direct result of family gatherings and off-Reservation travel. They also have led to an outbreak and a second surge in cases on the Navajo Nation.”

Amid the surge in COVID-19 cases and fatalities, The Associated Press reported Wednesday that the first doses of the recently approved coronavirus vaccine developed by Moderna have arrived at the Navajo Area Indian Health Service. 

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez told ABC’s Albuquerque, N.M., affiliate station KOAT-TV on Tuesday that 8,000 vaccines were distributed directly to health care facilities throughout the reservation. 

This comes just a week after the nation received its first doses of Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine to be administered to health care workers and those in long-term assisted living facilities.

Both vaccines have been found to be about 95 percent effective at preventing COVID-19, although final data showed that Moderna’s vaccine has an 86 percent efficacy rate for those over the age of 65.