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Navajo Nation surpasses New York state for the highest Covid-19 infection rate in the US

The Navajo Nation has surpassed New York and New Jersey for the highest per-capita coronavirus infection rate in the US -- another sign of Covid-19's disproportionate impact on minority communities.

Posted: May 19, 2020 7:45 AM


The Navajo Nation has surpassed New York and New Jersey for the highest per-capita coronavirus infection rate in the US -- another sign of Covid-19's disproportionate impact on minority communities.

The Navajo Nation, which spans parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, reported a population of 173,667 on the 2010 census. As a result, with 4,002 cases, the Native American territory has 2,304.41 cases of Covid-19 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, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez told CNN's Sara Sidner of its rate on the "Situation Room" Sunday night.

The nation has one of the strictest stay-at-home orders in the country, mandating that residents not leave their homes unless there is an emergency or they are essential workers.

Even those who leave home for work must have documentation on company letterhead with a verifiable contact number for a manager in order to go.

For the last few months the nation has been on weekend lockdowns to prevent members from being out and risking infection but case numbers have continued to rise.

Other minority groups also have been hard hit by the coronavirus.

Of the 39 states and the District of Columbia reporting the race and ethnicity of residents who have died of Covid-19, African Americans make up about 13% of the population in those places but 27% of Covid-19 deaths, according to an analysis from the American Public Media (APM) Research Lab.

In California, Latinos make 53% of the state's cases, despite making up the 39% of the state's population, according to California Department of Public Health data.

Spike in cases

Nez said there has been a huge spike in cases among the population, resulting in 140 deaths for the entire nation as of this weekend.

A press release from the Navajo Nation issued Saturday said that experts projected cases would peak in their population in mid-May.

Part of the reason for the spike is increased testing capacity, Nez said. More than 23,791 members, or 11% of the population of the Navajo Nation, has been tested for the virus.

Multiple reasons for increased spread

Another reason for the large number of cases is that multiple generations live in one home, Nez said.

"When one person gets Covid, goes home, they turn to infect the rest of the family," Nez said.

Additionally, 30% to 40% of residents do not have running water, Nez said. That prevents everyone from being able to wash their hands as often as recommended.

Another challenge: the nation is a "food desert," which means that more people are at the few grocery stores, convenience stores and gas stations to purchase food, Nez said.

"When we run out of food or supplies we have to go to the stores and there is a lot of people there and I believe...the spread is happening there as well as at home," Nez said.

In a Saturday press release, Nez urged residents to continue to stay in lockdown as much as possible and maintain good hygiene practices.

"With every passing day, we are a day closer to beating COVID-19. Whether we realize it or not we are winning the war on this virus," Nez said in the press release. "We have to stay the course when it comes to staying home as much as possible, wearing masks in public, washing our hands often, and taking every precaution to ensure our health and safety especially for our elders and children."

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3095814

Reported Deaths: 35549
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles104602114641
San Bernardino2587421561
Riverside2558082739
San Diego2197312222
Orange2178492546
Santa Clara959361158
Kern87240572
Fresno83591968
Sacramento816871128
Alameda69107842
Ventura63413462
San Joaquin58843788
Contra Costa53349460
Stanislaus43392773
Tulare42186515
Monterey36464255
San Mateo33207309
San Francisco29665274
Solano26191108
Santa Barbara25405243
Imperial25380486
Merced24570316
Sonoma24262242
Kings19588148
Placer17584186
San Luis Obispo16056140
Madera13585151
Santa Cruz12461113
Marin11732159
Yolo10852138
Shasta9750123
Butte9582128
El Dorado788649
Sutter782879
Napa773145
Lassen519916
San Benito504246
Yuba499627
Tehama433244
Tuolumne340340
Nevada323874
Mendocino319232
Amador303631
Lake264631
Humboldt245825
Glenn195520
Colusa17969
Calaveras163723
Siskiyou145713
Mono11244
Inyo98329
Del Norte8672
Plumas5895
Modoc3853
Mariposa3464
Trinity3044
Sierra820
Alpine730
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