COVID-19: 'We have a wildfire burning around us'
Indian Country Today
The Hopi Tribe's reservation is in northeastern Arizona and in the middle of the Navajo Nation. This is presenting unique issues to the tribe in this pandemic. Hopi Tribal Chairman Timothy Nuvangyaoma shares what the tribe is doing to keep the virus at bay when its surrounded by so many COVID-19 cases on the surrounding Navajo reservation.
"Well, the analogy I use when I'm speaking with the federal, state, and local governments, it's from a wildfire firefighting background, we have a wildfire burning around us."
"Our challenge is we're landlocked and every time we leave the Hopi reservation, we have to travel across hotspots."
"I really give a lot of credit to our villages for taking those initial steps in order to protect their village members."
"Out of those total number of tests tested, we have a cumulative number of 71 that have tested positive, 229 that have tested negative."
"30 of the 71 patients total are members of the Hopi tribe or approximately 42 percent of those tested are Hopi tribal members."
"The numbers are still too high for our liking."
"We know they instituted their 57-hour curfew and the lockdown over the weekend. They, I can't remember exactly when they first put that in, but based on that information, we do want to be respectful and supportive of the Navajo Nation and their leadership with the mandates that they're putting in place in order to try to curb this situation."
"The vice chairman and I have actually put out a public service announcement to let our Hopi members know that this is in place. It doesn't apply to us but we want to be respectful of the curfew and the mandates that are placed by the Navajo Nation and asking our Hopi community to limit their travel as well to try to do what we can to be part of that partnership with the Navajo Nation."
"We are under a stay at home order at this point in time."
"The Hopi people, I'm thankful to them because they really are on the frontlines, you know, keeping this from spreading."
"Through the IHS and our Hopi emergency response team, they are going to be starting village testing. They are starting with the village of Oraibi, which is actually happening today."
"I'm very encouraged that that is going to be taking place."
"The tribe is paying the people to sew, so many face coverings."
"I have not received any direct communication from him [Gov. Doug Ducey]"
"We're paying close attention to the numbers around us and as they continue to rise, what is that going to do for our native communities? For Hopi specifically?"
"We're hearing casinos opening. Is that going to entice our Hopi members to leave the stay at home shelter? There's a lot of factors in this that concern me and if they do start relaxing themselves a bit and start heading to our neighboring towns and cities, with that proponent in mind, how is that going to impact?"
"If you're tested and receive a negative, that could, in a sense, put a false sense of protection."
"Our messaging to the Hopi people is just to remind them that these dangers are still out there."
"if you're coming into contact with a much larger amount of people, you're still susceptible to catching that and bringing it back to the Hopi people."
"Everybody is doing such a great job right now that we don't want to go backward on a lot of the work that they've put in already to keep the community protected."
"The tribal set aside specifically, we received $85.5 million."
"We actually started a budget on that but it still requires some Hopi tribal council action."
"The CDC recommendations to continuously wash your hands and we know here on Hopi, not everybody has running water."
"There's some villages that fill up their washbasin once a day and that's used throughout the day to wash your hands."
"So that definitely creates some challenges."
"When it comes to the health and safety overall there is a project that's in place, it's called the Hopi arsenic mitigation project. And we've found arsenic in our water for quite some time.
Also on the daily newscast, Washington Editor Jourdan Bennett-Begaye reports updated COVID-19 numbers in Indian Country.
The anchor and executive producer of the program is Patty Talahongva.