The hottest spot in America for the coronavirus pandemic right now is a ruggedly beautiful, desolate region of the Southwest covering more than 27,000 square miles of New Mexico, Arizona and Utah:
The Navajo Nation.
The crisis there has been building for weeks and there are now more cases of Covid-19, per capita, among the Navajos than anywhere else in the country.
The Navajo Nation, with a population of 173,667 as of the 2010 census, has more than 4,000 cases, or more than 2,300 per 100,000 people.
“By contrast, New York state now has a rate of 1,806 cases per 100,000 and New Jersey is at 1,668 cases per 100,000,” reports CNN, citing data from Johns Hopkins University. (See video, above.)
The virus has killed at least 144 Navajos, most in just two counties in northwestern New Mexico.
In a place with little water and long distances to travel for food or medical treatment, reports ABC News, “efforts to mitigate the damage are enormous.”
Navajo leaders have imposed “by far the most strict closure laws in the nation: a 57-hour weekend lockdown, curfew every night, closure of nonessential businesses and a $1,000 fine for violating those ordinances,” ABC says.
Many Navajos are desperately poor and live in multi-generational houses with dirt floors and wood stoves for heat in winter. Water must be trucked in.
The capital of the Navajo Nation, Window Rock, lies about 25 miles northwest of Gallup NM, where many of the sickest are being treated in hospitals, clinics and hotels there. The influx of patients overwhelmed facilities and health workers, some of whom have come from far away.
At least two teams from Doctors Without Borders, which rarely operates inside the U.S., are working with the Navajos and other Native American communities in New Mexico, CNN reports.