Created: April 19, 2020 09:15 PM
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Gov. Michelle Lujan-Grisham, alongside Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Rep. Deb Haaland and other tribal leaders, discussed how COVID-19 is disproportionately affecting Native American communities during a PBS town hall Sunday.
While Native Americans only make up 10 percent of New Mexico’s population, they account for more than a third of the state’s positive cases.
"But, I'm very worried, once this virus presents itself into a small, tight-knit, very familial, proud community, it presents—without robust healthcare services inside these remote, rural communities—it presents significant challenges,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said.
The governor said the state recognized the challenged in rural areas early and are working to increase testing capabilities for tribes.
"Hopefully, launching enhanced testing with the Indian Health Service, they'll get testing supplies,” she said.
One reason for the surge in cases is due to an outbreak on the Navajo Nation, which accounts for more than half of all coronavirus cases documented within Indian Health Services nationwide.
"Everyone recognizes that there needs to be improvement in our health care system, more so in tribal communities,” President Nez said.
Congresswoman Haaland said she helped secure $8 billion within the CARES Act that will go directly to tribal governments across the U.S.
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