Updated: September 21, 2020 05:09 PM
Created: September 21, 2020 02:45 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. —One of the country’s top doctors, Dr. Anthony Fauci, praised the Navajo Nation for its handling of COVID-19 during a town hall with tribal leaders Monday.
The Navajo Nation was previously an epicenter for COVID-19, but strict mask mandates, curfews and lockdowns have helped flatten the curve.
“My Navajo people, I commend each and every one of you for the hard work that you have done,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, echoed President Nez’s statement during a virtual town hall.
“The reason you should be proud of what you've accomplished is that you have proven that when you do these public health measures, you can turn around a serious surge of infection,” he said.
“When I go out and try and plead with the rest of the nation, I will actually bring up the example of the success of what the Navajo Nation has been able to do,” the doctor added.
The Navajo Nation announced last week that it will participate in the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial. Dr. Laura Hammitt with Johns Hopkins Center for American Indian Health is leading the initiative.
“Native Americans have effectively been denied the opportunity to participate in these clinical trials because almost all of the city's sites are in large urban areas that have not done effective outreach,” Dr. Hammitt said.
The Pfizer COVID-19 clinical trial is one of many underway across the country. Dr. Fauci insists there are safeguards in place to ensure the vaccine that’s eventually distributed to the public is safe.
“We don't know when they will be shown to be safe and effective. My projection had been likely by November and December, but it is conceivable that they might be available towards the end of October,” he said.
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