Navajo Nation health officials warn families ahead of holiday season

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WINDOW ROCK, A.Z. – Around this time last year, the Navajo Nation was a hot spot for COVID-19. Now, health officials are trying to prevent a repeat and are recommending families try to limit gatherings.

After a year like 2020, where many celebrated the holidays virtually, there is hope this year that won’t be the case. But health officials on the Navajo Nation are starting to see a trend.

“As far as our contact tracing is showing, we still do show that a lot of our cases are coming from family gatherings. From people who get together especially indoors and now that it’s getting colder there is not really any other option to gather,” said Dr. Sophina Calderon, deputy chief of staff of Tuba City Regional Health Care.

On Tuesday, health officials gave an update on the status of the Navajo Nation. The Navajo Department of Health placed 33 communities under a health advisory due to high risk of COVID-19 exposure and transmission.

“The definition to make this list is the incidence rate has to be greater than or equal to 100 cases for 100,000 population for two consecutive weeks,” said Del Yazzie, an epidemiologist with the Navajo Epidemiology Center.

Shiprock made the list, in fact, it is one of the 13 communities that have consistently stayed on the list since late August.

While cases and deaths aren’t as high as they were last year, health officials are asking residents to be cautious.

“Just be very cautious and aware, especially among families who have a sort of mixed-status of vaccinated versus unvaccinated,” said Calderon.